The Department of Justice (DOJ) identified three cities – New York, Portland and Seattle – as “anarchist” jurisdictions. The designation was a response to the announcement by President Trump that he intends to defund state and local governments “that are permitting anarchy, violence and destruction in American cities.”
As the September 2 memorandum notes:
“My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones. To ensure that Federal funds are neither unduly wasted nor spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities. It is also critical to ensure that Federal grants are used effectively, to safeguard taxpayer dollars entrusted to the Federal Government for the benefit of the American people.”
Attorney General William Barr got more specific when announcing the designations:
“When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest. 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.”
It has not only been appalling but extremely frustrating to watch, as we have this summer, numerous American cities devolving into anarchy in connection with the Black Lives Matter/Antifa “protests” – especially since in many cases, the violence and looting have been sanctioned de facto by local mayors and governors.
Our federalist system of government, intended to be a stalwart against tyranny by the federal government, has literally been turned on its head by these local officials, who have specifically allowed and encouraged the violation of their citizenry’s constitutional rights in the name of a highly politicized and debatable “social justice movement.”
Save for the invocation of the “Insurrection Act,” the president is forbidden from calling in federal troops to patrol the streets unless specifically requested to do so by local government officials (certain exceptions do exist, for example, to protect federal property or federal laws).
We can be hopeful that the crass truism that “money talks” will be the carrot to entice local leaders to reconsider their failed policies.
It is useful, however, as a sobering exercise, to look at the DOJ’s criteria for evaluation of this designation, along with a history of each city’s failures in the areas noted.
Along with the devastating effects of the current global pandemic, the DOJ’s memo provides a near surreal perspective of how easy it is for an exceptional civilization to be undone by a small, discontented percentage of its population supported and facilitated by government officials (as well as mainstream media).
The following are the DOJ’s criteria for evaluating whether or not a city is an anarchist jurisdiction:
- 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.
- Any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate.
Here are the evaluations by the DOJ of the designated cities:
New York City
- Shootings in New York City have been on the rise since looting and protests began on or about May 28, 2020. In July 2020, shootings increased from 88 to 244, an increase of 177% over July 2019. In August 2020, shootings increased from 91 to 242, a 166% increase over August 2019.
- While the city faced increased unrest, gun violence and property damage, the New York City Council cut $1 billion from NYPD’s FY21 budget.
- The budget resulted in the cancellation of the new police recruiting class, cuts to overtime spending, and the transfer of certain police functions, including school safety, out of the NYPD.
- Meanwhile, the Manhattan and Brooklyn District Attorneys have declined to prosecute charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly arising from the protests, and the District Attorneys in Queens and the Bronx have declined to prosecute other protest-related charges.
- Both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have forcefully rejected federal law enforcement support.
- This month, Portland marked 100 consecutive nights of protests marred by vandalism, chaos and killing.
- Those bent on violence regularly started fires, threw projectiles at law enforcement officers, and destroyed property. Numerous law enforcement officers, among others, suffered injuries.
- Shootings increased by more than 140% in June and July 2020 compared to the same period last year.
- In the midst of this violence, the Portland City Council cut $15 million from the police bureau, eliminating 84 positions. Crucially, the cuts included the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which investigates shootings, and several positions from the police team that responds to emergency incidents.
- In August, Portland Mayor Wheeler sent a letter to President Trump expressly rejecting the Administration’s offer of federal law enforcement to stop the violent protests.
- For nearly a month, starting in June, the City of Seattle permitted anarchists and activists to seize six square blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, naming their new enclave the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ) and then the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP).
- Law enforcement and firefighters were precluded from entering the territory. The Seattle Police Department was ordered to abandon its precinct within the CHOP.
- Person-related crime in the CHOP increased 525% from the same period of time in the same area the year before, including by Mayor Durkan’s own count “two additional homicides, six additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include two additional non-fatal shootings).”
- The CHOP was allowed to stand for nearly a month, during which time two teenagers were shot and killed in the zone.
- The Seattle City Council, Mayor Durkan and Washington Governor Jay Inslee publicly rejected federal involvement in law enforcement activities within the city of Seattle.
The picture, taken together, of where our country is heading is truly disturbing.