The Department of Justice (DOJ) says that at least three American cities have been “permitting violence and destruction of property.”
The department said in a press release that New York City, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Wisconsin, have allowed violence to continue while not taking “reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.”
In a statement on Monday, Attorney General William Barr said, “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,” he added.
In the press release announcing the new designations, the department laid out criteria for receiving the new designation.
The DOJ reviewed whether jurisdictions prevented police from “intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction.”
Additionally, the department examined whether cities withdrew police officers from a “geographical area or structure that law” that they were “lawfully entitled to access,” or if a local government “disempowers or defunds police departments.”
Finally, the department considered whether jurisdictions turned down federal law enforcement involvement and “any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate.”
The press release cited a 166% increase in shootings in New York City compared to August 2019, and the city council’s move to cut $1 billion for the police department’s budget.
It also cited decisions by district attorneys to decline to prosecute charges of disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly, and “other protest-related charges.”
For Portland, the release noted the city had seen “100 consecutive nights of protests marred by vandalism, chaos, and even killing.”
It noted that demonstrators have hurled projectiles at law enforcement officials, a 140% increase in shootings in June compared to the previous year, and the city council’s decision to cut $15 million from the police department’s budget.
Additionally, it noted that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) has repeatedly turned down offers of federal law enforcement invovlement to help quell violent demonstrations.
And for Seattle, the release referenced a section of the city that was occupied by protesters, “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).”
“The CHOP was allowed to stand for nearly a month, during which time two teenagers were shot and killed in the zone,” it added.
Additionally, the release noted that Wisconsin Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) also turned down offers of federal involvement.
The new designations come weeks after Trump moved to block federal funding to cities designated as “anarchist jurisdictions.”