Justice Department Designates NYC, Other Cities As 'Anarchist Jurisdictions'

By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York City is among three cities the Trump administration is designating "anarchist jurisdictions."

The Justice Department is taking aim at New York, Portland and Seattle and could strip federal funding from the cities amid protests and cuts to police departments. The news was first reported by The New York Post.

The Justice Departmen in a press release said the three cities "have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities."

“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,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.  “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.”

Both the city and state of New York have threatened to sue over the classification.

Mayor Bill de Blasio during his daily briefing Monday said, "I was out in Elmhurst, Queens this morning, I saw peace, tranquility, I saw people going about their business, people excited that it's the first day of school, I saw anything but anarchy. This is just another one of President Trump's games. It's thoroughly political, it's part of his campaign strategy, it makes no sense, it's not based on the facts in the least, it's insulting to the people of New York City, and his effort to withhold our funding is unconstitutional."

Jim Johnson, the New York City Corporation Counsel, said the president doesn't have the authority "to change the will of Congress.

"We are preparing to and will be prepared to fight this in court," Johnson said, adding that the designation doesn't pass "the common sense test."

"If need be we can send in addition to our legal filings a dictionary because what we have in New York is not anarchy, what we have is a city moving forward under  difficult circumstances made more difficult because of the threats to withdraw federal funding," Johnson said.

De Blasio and the mayors of Portland and Seatlle later issued a joint statement saying, "This is thoroughly political and unconstitutional. The President is playing cheap political games with Congressionally directed funds. Our cities are bringing communities together; our cities are pushing forward after fighting back a pandemic and facing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, all despite recklessness and partisanship from the White House. What the Trump Administration is engaging in now is more of what we've seen all along: shirking responsibility and placing blame elsewhere to cover its failure."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded saying the president doesn’t control federal funding, and called the move "illegal" and "unconstitutional."

"The president can't supercede the law and say, 'I'm going to make those funds basically discretionary funds,' which is what he would have to do. Basically say, 'I control all federal funding.' He doesn't control federal funding. The federal law controls federal funding," Cuomo said. "If they actually do this, we will challenge it legally and he will lose once again because we've seen this play before."

He also blasted the president for changing his residency to Florida.

Just weeks ago, the New York Post reported that President Donald Trump, in a five-page memo, had ordered all federal agencies to identify funding to the White House Office of Management and Budget that can be redirected from cities that have become “lawless zones.”

The city gets some $7 billion each year in federal aid.

The Department of Justice said it is continuing to work to identify jurisdictions that meet the criteria set out in the president's memo and will periodically update the list.

According to the Justice Department, the criteria for evaluating each city is:

  • 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.

The Justice Department said New York City meets the criteria, citing a rise in gun violence, $1 billion cuts to the NYPD budget and the decision not to prosecute crimes stemming from protests.

Stay informed, stay connected — follow WCBS 880 on Facebook and TwitterDownload the RADIO.COM app + favorite WCBS 880 for breaking news, traffic and weather alerts.