U.S. Justice Department Official Deems Portland an “Anarchist Jurisdiction”

“This is thoroughly political and unconstitutional,” replied the mayor.

Portland protesters carry a street preacher out of the crowd on July 18, 2020. (Alex Wittwer)

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday deemed Portland, Seattle and New York City "anarchist jurisdictions," the first step in withholding federal funding from cities that won't cooperate with President Donald Trump's crackdown on protesters.

The designation of these three cities results from Trump's Sept. 2 executive order, which told Attorney General William Barr to identify jurisdictions "that have permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract these criminal activities."

In response, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released a joint statement.

"This is thoroughly political and unconstitutional," the statement says. "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."

The designation, which comes with a directive from the White House to withdraw federal aid, is the latest escalation in Trump's feud with Portland, where protesters against police brutality marched for 100 consecutive nights and repeatedly defaced a federal courthouse. Last month, tensions in the city reached new highs when a self-proclaimed anti-fascist fatally shot a Trump supporter in the street.

With only 43 days until the election, these designations fulfilled Trump's campaign promises to punish unruly Democratic cities. The federal policy echoes a statement on the homepage of Trump's official 2020 campaign website. "Democrats have made it clear that they are the party of high taxes, high crime, and RADICAL SOCIALISM," the campaign says.

Portland, Seattle and New York City were the first areas to be designated "anarchist," but the DOJ is said to be working to identify other cities that may meet Trump's criteria.

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