Attorney General William Barr said in a statement that New York City, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon are jurisdictions “permitting violence and destruction of property” and are subject to funding cuts per an executive order from President Donald Trump to slash the budgets of cities “permitting anarchy.” The news release cites the decision by New York and Seattle lawmakers to cut police department budgets and the existence of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in Seattle, a self-declared autonomous zone that police cleared of protesters in July.
“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,” Barr said.
“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.”
The official statement notes that other cities could be added to this list if they meet the requirements: “The Department of Justice is continuing to work to identify jurisdictions that meet the criteria set out in the President’s Memorandum and will periodically update the list of selected jurisdictions as required therein.”
The announcement is the latest criticism against the three cities, highly populated urban centers that have served as the scenes for some of the nation’s most invigorated protests against racial injustice and police brutality. Demonstrations continue nationwide since George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed by police officers in Minneapolis. They intensified following more instances of police brutality, including in the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York.