The Justice Department, with the sign-off of Attorney General William Barr, has designated New York City as an “anarchist jurisdiction,” along with Seattle and Portland, Oregon. The move is a transparent punishment for those cities’ perceived softness on crime and openness to cutting funds for the police in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests. It’s also the latest front in the president’s grudge match against his former place of residence.
“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,” Barr said in a statement obtained by the New York Post.
The Justice Department mentioned the city’s rising gun violence (which is still a fraction of what it was in the 1990s), its refusal to prosecute some charges stemming from the George Floyd protests, and its $1 billion cut to the NYPD budget (a figure that is less dramatic than it looks).
Earlier this month, President Trump issued a memo directing the Justice Department to label areas that were not enforcing the law the way Barr & Co. prefer. Trump gave the director of the Office of Management and Budget 30 days to outline possible cuts to those jurisdictions. Such reductions could hit New York hard: The city receives $7 billion in federal grants every year. But the city is expected to challenge any penalty in court, and with a presidential election looming, the effects of the Trump administration’s move, if there are any, may be short-lived.
Hours after the news was reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “just another one of President Trump’s games.”