New York City is one of three places that “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities,” leading to its designation as an “anarchist jurisdiction,” the Justice Department said Monday.
Rather than idle words, the designation has potential financial consequences. President Trump issued a memo earlier this month directing the DOJ to identify jurisdictions that, in its view, were not enforcing the law appropriately. Designated cities could lose their federal funding.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio minced no words in responding to the DOJ assessment.
“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,” he said at his daily news conference. “It’s insulting to the people of New York City and his effort to withhold our funding is unconstitutional.”
The city’s top lawyer said his office was preparing to fight any funding cuts in court.
Trump’s Sept. 2 order gives the director of the Office of Management and Budget 30 days to issue guidance to federal agencies on restricting eligibility for federal grants for the cities on the DOJ list. Such grants make up a huge portion of NYC’s already strapped annual budget — more than $7 billion in fiscal 2021 alone, or 7.5% of the city’s projected total revenue.
In justifying its decision, the DOJ cited New York City’s rising gun violence, cuts to the NYPD’s budget, and moves by various district attorneys not to prosecute charges related to protests earlier this summer.
“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,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.
Both the city and the state have previously threatened to sue the federal government over the possible DOJ classification.
Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington were also hit with the same designation.
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