Department of Justice Labels Major Cities “Anarchist Jurisdictions”

William Paul Ellis- Staff Writer

Attorney General William Barr listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican state attorneys general about social media companies, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice would be designating three cities as “anarchist jurisdictions” in connection to the wave of protests that have taken place.

The three cities, New York City, Portland, and Seattle have been the site of public demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The identification of the anarchist jurisdictions is a response to President’s Trump memorandum published in early September entitled “Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients that are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities,” according to the DOJ.

Both the White House and the Department of Justice contributed to developing the criteria that defines an anarchist jurisdiction.

Currently, the criterion includes a jurisdiction that has defunded the police, a jurisdiction that has prevented law enforcement from intervening in protests, and other requirements, with most involving punishing a jurisdiction for a perceived lack of support towards law enforcement.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. 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,” said Attorney General William Barr in a statement from his office.

The consequences of being identified as an anarchist jurisdiction include the possible loss of crucial federal funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While, the Attorney General maintains that the DOJ’s actions are to prevent crime, many took the announcement as a partisan attempt to influence public perception of the Black Lives Matter protests and President Trump’s leadership.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized the current administration’s actions in a press conference with reporters, promising to legally challenge a cut of federal funding if necessary.

“I understand the politics, but when you try to manipulate and distort government agencies to play politics, which is what the Trump administration has done from day one … this is more of the same,” he said.

The mayors of the three cities, Bill De Blasio of New York City, Ted Wheeler of Portland, and Jenny Durkan of Seattle released a joint statement condemning what they believe to be an attack against cities led by Democrats.

“This is thoroughly political and unconstitutional. The President is playing cheap political games with Congressionally directed funds,” the mayors said.

As the Trump Administration continues to make sweeping actions against demonstrations across the country, many voters in the November election are still ardent supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Brianna Cry, a Senior at Hampton University, believes that the President’s and Attorney General’s actions can be interpreted as an attack against peaceful, and often Black, protestors.

“People have a right to protest when they deem it necessary, so it appears to me that they are only doing harm by attempting to punish cities and their residents for standing up for what they believe is right,” Cry said.

While New York City, Portland, and Seattle are currently the only three anarchist jurisdictions, the DOJ explained that more cities could be given this designation in the near future.

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