DOJ includes Seattle on final list of ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ targeted for defunding
The U.S. Department of Justice listed Seattle among a group of what it’s labeling “anarchist jurisdictions” Monday, with the intent of withholding and redirecting federal funds over ongoing protests and clashes with police.
“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,” Attorney General William Barr said in a written release. “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance.”
This comes after a memorandum issued by President Trump in early September, which had ordered a review of cities like Seattle, Portland, Washington, D.C., and New York City to determine whether it would be appropriate to redirect federal funding away from them.
Seattle, Portland, and New York City eventually made it on AG Barr’s final list of so-called “anarchist jurisdictions,” with Washington, D.C., left off, despite frequent criticism President Trump has levied toward the city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser.
Trump’s early-September memo specifically cited the formation of the CHOP in June as an example of Seattle leaders “endorsing lawlessness and taking of property.” Barr echoed that sentiment Monday, with the CHOP — and the ensuing violence that occurred within its borders — as the primary reason behind Seattle’s presence on his list.
In terms of the legality of defunding major cities, Office of Management and Budget head Russ Vought claims that any federal money directed toward cities like Seattle — structured as “discretionary grant programs” — isn’t specifically earmarked by Congress, making it so that the president has “flexibility to make determinations and to align who receives money accordingly.”
At the time Trump issued his memorandum, though, Washington leaders were vocal in their opposition, with Gov. Jay Inslee labeling it a “baseless, petty and divisive move.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, whose Congressional district includes Seattle, was similarly critical, calling it a “prime example of Trump’s failed leadership and desperation.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan — who herself is a former U.S. Attorney — issued a statement Monday calling Barr’s list “a gross misuse of federal power and blatantly unlawful.”
“Trump, the Department of Justice, and Barr’s obsession with Seattle and me is irrational and most importantly, a huge distraction,” Durkan said.
Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda — who chairs the council’s budget committee — spoke out against the move Monday as well, labeling it “abhorrent” and “inhumane,” and stating that the council “wholeheartedly rejects this.”
“We will continue to push back and make sure that our city gets the funding that it needs,” Mosqueda vowed.