KEY POINTS

  • The U.S Department of Justice cited rising crime rates and failure to prosecute protesters among the reasons for the designations
  • The U.S. Office of Management and Budget will have 30 days to decide on potential cuts to the three cities' federal funds
  • State and local officials in New York previously threatened legal action over threats to the state's federal funds

The U.S. Department of Justice designated New York City, Portland, and Seattle as “anarchist jurisdictions” on Monday after months of Black Lives Matter protests and rising crime rates between the cities.

The cities potentially stand to lose millions in federal funding as a result of the designation, which is likely to set off court battles between the Trump administration and state leaders.

Among the reasons  the Justice Department’s report cites for the designations include the rising gun and violent crime rates in the cities, cuts to the police budgets, failure to prosecute protesters, and state and local officials rejecting support from federal law enforcement.

“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,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a press release.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance," he continued. "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."

Monday’s report was in response to a Sept. 2 memorandum by President Donald Trump to review federal funding to recipients “permitting anarchy, violence, and destruction.”

All three cities are in states Trump is not expected to win in November's presidential election.

The memorandum ordered the Justice Department to review cities and states where this “anarchy” occurred during the summer and the response by local and state officials. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget would then “issue guidance to the heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of Federal grants” within 30 days of the Justice Department’s report.

New York City was one of multiple cities referenced in the memorandum, alongside Seattle and Washington D.C., which had its federal funding threatened in the report. This would be another hit on the city’s $7 billion 2021 budget, which has already been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Trump a “bully” during a Sept. 3 press conference in response to the memorandum.

“I believe the president is fundamentally a bully which I've said too many times and I've known him very well for a very long period of time,” Cuomo said. “It doesn't work in New York because you can't bully New Yorkers. We just don't get bullied.”

“He said that his protection of Americans against these protests is akin to World War II. No. World War II – I'll tell you what's akin to World War II: It was the COVID attack. This nation has not been attacked by an enemy who has killed more and ravaged more than COVID since World War II and the President as a commander-in-chief has been an abysmal failure in the war against COVID.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Trump’s threat “unconstitutional” on Twitter and threatened to take the administration to court if funding is pulled.

Protestors wearing gas masks and carrying homemade shields demonstrate in Portland, Oregon Protestors wearing gas masks and carrying homemade shields demonstrate in Portland, Oregon Photo: AFP / Allison Dinner