The Trump administration officially identified Portland, Seattle and New York City as permitting ongoing violence and failing to counteract crime, the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday announced Monday.
It suggested that could affect federal funding for the three large Democrat-run cities without specifying how. “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.
The Justice Department specifically called out five actions that the Portland City Council, Mayor Ted Wheeler and other city officials have taken or failed to take, the Trump administration’s view.
Wheeler’s office did not immediately respond Monday morning to a request for comment.
The Trump administration memo says:
“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.”
The City Council did indeed redirect $15 million from its planned Portland Police Bureau budget and disband the gun violence unit. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested for alleged property distruction, disorderly conduct and other crimes.
One protester was shot and killed by a gunman who had linked himself to black lives matter protests.
Hundreds of protesters also have been sprayed with toxic gasses or sprayed with impact munitions but both local and federal officers.
Protests in Portland began within days of the police killing of George Floyd. They were becoming smaller and less intense by July but reignited after President Donald Trump ordered federal officers to surge into Portland to police portions of the city near the city’s downtown federal courthouse.
— The Oregonian politics team
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