On Monday, at the direction of President Trump, the US Department of Justice released a list of cities that it has classified “anarchist jurisdictions.” This list includes Portland, Oregon; Seattle Washington; and New York City, to name but a few.
In the Monday announcement, Attorney General William Barr made it clear that unless these locations – which include both state and local jurisdiction – take definitive steps to promote law and order, they face the possibility of losing Federal funding for a variety of programs.
“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Barr said in the statement. “It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”
In a September 2nd, 2020, memo, President Trump wrote, “Unfortunately, anarchy has recently beset some of our States and cities. As a result of these State and local government policies, persistent and outrageous acts of violence and destruction have continued unabated in many of America’s cities, such as Portland, Seattle, and New York.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – who has received an abundance of criticism for his handling of the protest-inspired violence, along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blassio, protested the very essence of the President’s authority to foment law and order in these renegade locales:
“He doesn’t control federal funding. The federal law controls federal funding, and the federal law is very specific: Jurisdiction doesn’t get affordable housing money if it does this, jurisdiction gets community development money if it does this. And the President is not above the law, that’s the Constitution of the United States.”
The Executive Branch of the Federal government administers funds that are appropriated by Congress for certain programs. The appropriate agencies, through the authority of the president (the leader of the Executive Branch), abides by the criteria set forth as requirements to qualify for any funding available. Those qualifying prerequisites circumvent any mission statement for those taxpayer dollars.
The presidential memorandum lays out specific criteria to be considered by the DoJ when placing a locale on this list:
- Whether a jurisdiction forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction;
- Whether a jurisdiction has withdrawn law enforcement protection from a geographical area or structure that law enforcement officers are lawfully entitled to access but have been officially prevented from accessing or permitted to access only in exceptional circumstances, except when law enforcement officers are briefly withheld as a tactical decision intended to resolve safely and expeditiously a specific and ongoing unlawful incident posing an imminent threat to the safety of individuals or law enforcement officers;
- Whether a jurisdiction disempowers or defunds police departments;
- Whether a jurisdiction unreasonably refuses to accept offers of law enforcement assistance from the Federal Government; and
- Any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate.