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DOJ designates Portland as city that permits ‘violence and destruction of property’

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Seattle and New York City join Portland on the list.

Posted: Sep 21, 2020 1:30 PM
Updated: Sep 21, 2020 1:36 PM

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -- The Department of Justice announced Monday morning that three cities, including Portland, have been identified as jurisdictions that permit violence and destruction of property.

Seattle and New York City join Portland on the list. In its statement, the department wrote the trio of cities “have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.”

The DOJ's designation follows Pres. Donald Trump's threat to withhold federal funds from Portland if violence in the city did not stop.

Trump released a memorandum earlier this month entitled “Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities.”

“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,” said Attorney General Bill Barr in the DOJ statement. “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”

The DOJ released a list of evaluation criteria for the three cities on whether changes in funding will be considered. Some of those criteria included how a city is or is not allowing its police force to “restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction” and whether a city “unreasonably refuses to accept offers of law enforcement assistance from the Federal Government.”

Under its characterization of Portland in particular, the DOJ cites the city’s summer of “protests marred by vandalism, chaos, and even killing,” the dissolution of PPB’s Gun Violence Reduction Team and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s August letter to Trump in which he rejected the offer of federal officers.

Wheeler, along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, issued the following joint statement in response to the DOJ designation announcement:

"This is thoroughly political and unconstitutional. 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."

On Saturday night, a group gathered to demonstrate in downtown Portland. Police said members of the group smashed windows at a bank, restaurant and coffee shop, but no arrests have been made in the acts of vandalism.

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