U.S. Attorney General William Barr participates in a roundtable discussion about human trafficking at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., September 21, 2020. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday identified New York City, Portland and Seattle as “anarchist jurisdictions,” saying that those cities have “permitted violence and destruction of property” and have refused to address criminal activities.

The designation follows a memorandum from President Donald Trump earlier this month that directed officials to identify “anarchist jurisdictions” with intent to slash their federal funding. As part of the rationale for the cities’ labels, the DOJ cited votes to cut police funding, the refusal to prosecute protesters, the rejection of federal intervention, and injuries suffered by law enforcement. 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.” He added that federal funding cannot be “wasted.”

Backlash to the DOJ statement was swift. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “The president can’t supersede the law and say I’m going to make those funds basically discretionary funds, which is what he would have to do. If they actually do this, we will challenge it legally, and they will lose once again.” New York Attorney General Letitia James said the president should “be prepared to defend this illegal order in court,” noting that defunding New York will also lay the groundwork to defund law enforcement. The order would remove $7 billion in federal grants from New York City’s budget, approximately 7.5% of the city’s projected total revenue.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Trump and Barr Declare War on the First Amendment – Truthout – 9/21/2020
Trump’s authorizing the attorney general to assign such designations, however, did not include a single legal citation justifying his ability to do so. There is also a strong possibility that the cities named on Monday will challenge their newfound designations in the courts, especially if they result in loss of funding from the federal government.

DOJ Will Label New York ‘Anarchist Jurisdiction,’ Threaten Federal Funds – National Review – 9/21/2020
The designation comes after President Trump signed a memo in early September ordering federal agencies to evaluate ways to redirect funds away from cities that have “permitted violence and the destruction of property” in the summer’s mass demonstrations and riots. In particular, the memo ordered federal agencies to target cities that moved to slash police budgets.

Why Are These Cities Now Called ‘Anarchist Jurisdictions’? Racism. – Refinery29 – 9/21/2020
What is the point of assigning this definitely not-made-up term to these three cities? Basically, pettiness, with a little bit of racism thrown in. The DOJ claims that they made this decision in direct response to increased “violence and destruction of property” within these cities, specifically following this summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Essentially, then, each location risks losing different levels of federal funding because its residents didn’t want statues honoring racist leaders to remain in place.

The Justice Department Sees ‘Anarchy’ Overtaking New York City. If Only That Were Remotely True. – Reason – 9/21/2020
The idea that New York City resembles an “anarchy”—or that any city has become an anarchy due to this summer’s spike in crimes and riots—is fundamentally absurd. It is true that New York City, like many major American cities, has seen a spike this summer in gun violence and homicide. But by historical standards, the overall violent crime rate remains fairly low. We aren’t exactly in The Purge yet.

AG labeling Seattle an ‘anarchist’ city is ‘abhorrent,’ ‘blatantly unlawful’ say city leaders – MyNorthwest – 9/22/2020
Seattle was included on Barr’s list alongside Portland and New York City, with the stated intent to redirect federal funds away from cities “permitting anarchy, violence, and destruction.” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan responded to the move Monday, calling it “a gross misuse of federal power and blatantly unlawful.”

NY Post, NBC: DoJ labels NYC, Seattle, Portland as “anarchist jurisdictions” — to cut off federal funding – HotAir – 9/21/2020
One has to wonder whether the potential status of Minnesota as a swing state has anything to do with the DoJ’s designation. New York, Oregon, and Washington are all deep-blue states where Republicans and Donald Trump don’t have a prayer of winning in November. Minnesota, on the other hand, looks like it could be winnable, which might be why the DoJ is sparing Minneapolis from a status change before the election.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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