DOJ labels NYC, Seattle, Portland as cities ‘permitting violence,’ weighs pulling federal funds

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks about ‘Operation Legend: Combating Violent Crime in American Cities’ in the East Room of the White House July 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — New York City, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, may be at risk of losing federal funding after the Justice Department labeled the three cities as “jurisdictions permitting violence and destruction of property” on Monday.

The federal agency’s announcement comes in response to President Donald Trump’s memo earlier this month, calling for the review of federal funding to “jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence and destruction in America’s cities.”

The DOJ said its working to name areas that meet the criteria set out in the president’s memo, and the list published Monday will be periodically updated.

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

Spokespeople for the mayors’ offices in all three cities could not be immediately reached for comment.

Many cities across the United States have experienced unrest since the May death of George Floyd. In some cases the protests have escalated into violence and looting.

The federal government has mounted a campaign to disperse the racial justice protests, including by sending federal agents into Portland and Seattle and encouraging federal prosecutors to bring charges.

Last week, the Justice Department urged federal prosecutors to consider sedition charges against protesters who have burned buildings and engaged in other violent activity.

Monday’s threat to revoke federal funds was the government’s latest escalation in its quest to curb the protests.

The criteria for evaluating each city to determine whether its federal funds should be reviewed includes whether police are forbidden from intervening to restore order or whether its police force has been defunded.

The full list is provided below:

– 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.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

For New York City, the Justice Department cited a rise in shootings “since looting and protests began on or about May 28, 2020.”

For Seattle, the agency said the city “permitted anarchists and activists to seize six square blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.”

For Portland, the DOJ cited “protests marred by vandalism, chaos and even killing,” and the city’s move to cut $15 million from its police department.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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