Many local liberal governments sat on their hands while rioters sweep through their streets unchecked. With this, the Justice Department says the federal government isn’t picking up the tab.
The Justice Department says New York, Portland, and Seattle shouldn’t get federal dollars. These cities refused to act against violent rioters sweeping through their cities. Local liberal governments in these cities repeatedly allowed rioters to loot local businesses. They also let rioters destroy property and assault citizens with virtually no police response. Additionally, Attorney General William Barr says American taxpayers shouldn’t have to cover the cost of this politically-motivated inaction.
“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Barr said in a statement. He added that he hopes the three cities would “reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”
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The Justice Department’s push to withhold funds from these liberal strongholds represents a notable escalation in the Trump Administration’s efforts to hold local governments accountable for their weak-handed response to violence and unrest.
The White House Memo
The White House released a memo earlier in the month. It directed the Justice Department to identify governments that were “permitting anarchy” in their jurisdictions. The department needs to do so by refusing to act against violent mobs that terrorized their cities for weeks. The memo describes the three cities in the Justice Department statement as “anarchist jurisdictions.”
So far, only New York, Seattle, and Portland have made the list. However, the Justice Department said it would add more cities if their local governments prevented police from intervening against violence and destruction. Cities can also be added to the list for withdrawing police from specific areas. Those who refuse assistance from federal law enforcement or make an effort to undermine the police can also be added..
The liberal mayors of these cities unsurprisingly cried about the Justice Department’s perceived overreach. At least one, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, described the effort as politically motivated. However, that’s a rather ironic statement coming from a local leader who has no issue with using the wellbeing of their citizens and businesses as a bargaining chip to pursue their political agenda. Wheeler gained notoriety when he stoked outrage against federal law enforcement officers in Portland. He also encouraged several days of riots that resulted in countless injuries to police in citizens.
The Justice Department didn’t detail how much federal aid was at stake. Officials from the agency say they’re waiting on the White House Office of Management and Budget to provide additional guidance on how to go about restricting the funds.
The Justice Department’s efforts to restrict funds seem appropriate given these cities’ willful disregard for the rule of law. However, it’s sure to be challenged in court. Additionally, there’s a good chance that at least one of the Obama-appointed deep state federal judges that permeate the court system will side with the cities. An earlier Trump administration effort to restrict federal funds from cities that flouted national immigration laws have stalled in court.
In the meantime, President Trump is pushing Justice Department officials to prosecute instances of violent unrest. He wants them to do so with the full force of the federal court system. Barr instructed his prosecutors to aggressively pursue federal charges against rioters. He also encouraged them to use sedition charges in such cases.
In order to successfully bring sedition charges, prosecutors must prove the defendants participated in a conspiracy to attack government agents or officials that posed an immediate danger. Given the events we’ve seen unfold in the aforementioned cities and the widespread threat posed by radical left-wing group ANTIFA, it seems like the charge is warranted in several of the riot cases.
These local governments willingly failed to protect their citizens from violence, theft, and property damage. Now, they want federal taxpayers to cover the cost. However, if the Justice Department ruling stands up in court, New York, Portland, and Seattle could find out the hard way that you can’t flout the rule of law. They can learn that you can’t turn around and ask the rest of America to help clean up your mess.