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Policy Summary

On September 21st, President Donald Trump followed through with an Executive Order from earlier this month and officially deemed New York, Seattle, and Portland “anarchist jurisdictions.” This could mean that these three cities will potentially see cuts in federal funding, especially regarding federal grants. In the original September 2nd Executive Order, Trump specifically targeted the government officials of cities who are “permitting anarchy, violence, and destruction.” The three cities listed have seen heavy protests this year after several law-enforcement involved shootings.

In a statement on September 21st, Attorney General William Barr implied that leaders in these cities do not allow law enforcement to do their jobs, which in turn leads to citizens not being protected by law enforcement when the time comes. Since these leaders will allegedly not cooperate with law enforcement, President Trump and the Justice Department intend on punishing them through cutting federal funding. Some of the criteria for cities to fall under the scope of the term “anarchist jurisdiction,” as laid out in the Justice Departments September 21st memo, are: whether a jurisdiction disempowers or defunds police departments and whether a jurisdiction refuses to accept offers of law enforcement aid from the Federal Government. According to the memo, cities may be added to the list as they fall under these criteria. In the coming weeks, there is expected to be more information released about what specific cuts in federal funding may occur.

Policy Analysis

The move to declare New York City, Portland, and Seattle as anarchist jurisdictions is perceived by many as a political move. The November 3rd election is looming, and President Trump is looking to make good on his promise to be a “law and order” candidate. Painting cities as “lawless zones” that he intends to help or put an end to, Trump grasps at straws as Election Day closes in. In recent national polls, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is favored at 51%, putting him eight points ahead of President Trump. Being that the election is so close, it is no coincidence that all three of the cities named in this recent announcement are Democrat-led. Any other cities that are added to the Justice Department’s list in the coming months would likely be Democrat-led, as well. The President has often criticized the leadership of these cities during the protests, and subsequent looting and rioting, earlier this year. The mayors of these three cities believe that if Trump follows through with his promise after labeling them anarchist jurisdictions, he would be breaking the law. In response to this threat, the mayors have also vocalized that they feel the President’s move is purely political and unconstitutional. There are already legal wheels turning, with New York Attorney General Letitia James stating that she is preparing a lawsuit to challenge President Trump’s plan to withhold federal grant money.

President Trump has once again successfully manipulated the Constitution with his latest move; he claims he does not want Federal funds used in a way that violates the Government’s promise to “protect life, liberty, and property,” yet, he cuts funding instead of redirecting it in a more productive way or attempting to get to the root of the problem.

Resistance Resources

  • You can read the full announcement from the Department of Justice here.
  • To read President Trump’s September 2nd announcement, click here.
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