'Anarchist jurisdictions' NYC, Seattle, Portland file lawsuit against Trump Administration

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, October 22, 2020
NYC to file lawsuit with Seattle, Portland over anarchist cities designation
Mayor de Blasio, Attorney Jim Johnson announce lawsuit against Trump Administration

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced alongside Corporation Counsel Jim Johnson a lawsuit against the Trump Administration.

New York City is filing the lawsuit in Seattle alongside that city and Portland to fight against their designation as anarchist jurisdictions.

The designation threatens to allow the federal government to withhold as much as $12 billion from New York City.

"It's morally wrong, it's legally un acceptable, it's unconstitutional and we're going to fight it," Mayor de Blasio said.

He said that Seattle and Portland are also two cities working to pull themselves back up from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson laid out the three reasons the city has decided to file the lawsuit.

"First, they're stepping way over their bonds, Congress controls the power of the purse, not the Trump administration, and yet they are stepping into the congressional space. Second, they're moving in a way that is arbitrary and capricious. There is no basis in law, there is no basis in fact, for this anarchist determination, and yet they are going to use it to determine who does and who does not get federal funding. Third, it violates federalism, because it steps into a space, or at least they are trying to step into a space that is uniquely for the cities to decide; how we decide to police our streets, how we decide to spend our funds," Johnson said.

In the lawsuit, the three cities challenge the proposed action on five different grounds, including violation of the Separation of Powers and the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The cities ask that the Court remove the cities' "anarchist jurisdiction" designations and prohibit the U.S. Department of Justice and Office of Management and Budget from carrying out the administration's scheme.

"We will beat them in court," de Blasio said.

We will be with them all along the way," Johnson said. "There will be no victory unless we push the fight."

Seattle and Portland's mayors also released statements on the lawsuit.

"The Trump administration's political threats against Seattle and other Democratic cities are unlawful and an abuse of federal power. I am confident the Courts will reign him in again. Seattle and people across America need help fighting a pandemic that has claimed over 220,000 American lives, fixing an economic crisis that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans unemployed, and bringing America together during this civil rights reckoning. Instead, the President chooses to ignore science, divide Americans, and threaten the lifeline for many struggling in this time. It's immoral, unconstitutional, and shameful that we are forced to expend any resources on this political theater," said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan.

"The President singled out three progressive cities - Portland, Seattle and New York City - and threatened federal support critical to protecting vulnerable residents," said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. "These threats include restricting federal funds for coronavirus relief, funds for HIV treatment, and funds for newborn screenings. That's why Portland, Seattle and New York will fight this illegal designation to preserve federal investments designed to help our most vulnerable residents."

The U.S. Department of Justice labeled the three cities "anarchist jurisdictions' one month ago.

The DOJ says the three cities have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.

The list, which will be updated, was published on DOJ's website Monday in response to President Donald Trump's memorandum of September 2, 2020, entitled "Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities."

The criteria for evaluating each city is as follows:

- Whether a jurisdiction forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction.

- Whether a jurisdiction has withdrawn law enforcement protection from a geographical area or structure that law enforcement officers are lawfully entitled to access but have been officially prevented from accessing or permitted to access only in exceptional circumstances, except when law enforcement officers are briefly withheld as a tactical decision intended to resolve safely and expeditiously a specific and ongoing unlawful incident posing an imminent threat to the safety of individuals or law enforcement officers.

- Whether a jurisdiction disempowers or defunds police departments.

- Whether a jurisdiction unreasonably refuses to accept offers of law enforcement assistance from the Federal Government.

- Any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate.

New York City

- Shootings in New York City have been on the rise since looting and protests began on or about May 28, 2020. For July 2020, shootings increased from 88 to 244, an increase of 177% over July 2019. In August 2020, shootings increased from 91 to 242, a 166% increase over August 2019.

- While the city faced increased unrest, gun violence, and property damage, the New York City Council cut $1 billion from NYPD's FY21 budget.

- The budget resulted in the cancellation of the new police recruiting class, cuts to overtime spending, and the transfer of certain police functions, including school safety, out of the NYPD.

- Meanwhile, the Manhattan and Brooklyn District Attorneys have declined to prosecute charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly arising from the protests, and the District Attorneys in Queens and the Bronx have declined to prosecute other protest-related charges.

- Both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have forcefully rejected federal law enforcement support.

Portland, Oregon

- This month, Portland marked 100 consecutive nights of protests marred by vandalism, chaos, and even killing.

- Those bent on violence regularly started fires, threw projectiles at law enforcement officers, and destroyed property. Numerous law enforcement officers, among others, suffered injury.

- Shootings increased by more than 140% in June and July 2020 compared to the same period last year.

- In the midst of this violence, the Portland City Council cut $15 million from the police bureau, eliminating 84 positions. Crucially, the cuts included the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which investigates shootings, and several positions from the police team that responds to emergency incidents.

- In August, Portland Mayor Wheeler sent a letter to President Trump expressly rejecting the Administration's offer of federal law enforcement to stop the violent protests.

Seattle, Washington

- For nearly a month, starting in June, the City of Seattle permitted anarchists and activists to seize six square blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood, naming their new enclave the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" (CHAZ) and then the "Capitol Hill Occupied Protest" (CHOP).

- Law enforcement and fire fighters were precluded from entering the territory. The Seattle Police Department was ordered to abandon their precinct within the CHOP.

- Person-related crime in the CHOP increased 525% from the same period of time in the same area the year before, including by Mayor Durkan's own count "two additional homicides, 6 additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include 2 additional non-fatal shootings)."

- The CHOP was allowed to stand for nearly a month, during which time two teenagers were shot and killed in the zone.

- The Seattle City Council, Mayor Durkan, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee publicly rejected federal involvement in law enforcement activities within the city of Seattle.

$7 billion in federal dollars for New York City goes to fund the following programs and departments:

- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families - $1.3 Billion

- Title I Education - $705 million

- Child Care and Development Block - $499 million

- Section 8 - $437 million

- Medical Assistance Program - $209 million


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube