By Jose Medina
In the year 2020, the U.S. has had to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, come to terms with racial injustices, experienced record firestorms and hurricanes and is facing a tumultuous election.
Now, we have “anarchist jurisdictions.” At least, according to the US Department of Justice under the direction of the Trump Administration.
The three US cities are New York City, Portland, and Seattle. The designation of these three cities would allow the restriction of federal funding on the grounds that they are “Jurisdictions Permitting Violence and Destruction of Property.”
However, Miriam Krinsky, the Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network of elected prosecutors working towards compassionate justice reforms, challenged the US Department of Justice’s decision.
Krinsky argued the designation announcement is “a chilling move and a dangerous pretext for continued attacks by the President on cities that are Democratic strongholds, coming weeks before the presidential election.”
He suggested the designation seeks to delegitimize the Democratic Party’s ability to lead just before the country is getting ready to vote, and is an attempt to restrict federal funding for Democrat-led cities to strong-arm constituents into voting for the Trump Administration in exchange for these federal funds.
As the US continues to persevere against an ongoing pandemic, cities are going to need all the funding they can get to combat the pandemic and keep their citizens safe and healthy, said Krinsky, noting “any attempt to unilaterally cut off federal funds is unconscionable, illegal.”
Krinsky said the Trump administration would be putting countless citizens in danger over politics.
Federal funding should be given to cities regardless of which party is in power, Krinsky maintains, and the designation “illustrates the extent to which the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice has abandoned all norms and political neutrality.”
Interestingly, despite the administration’s efforts to claim these cities are violent and chaotic, the cities have low violent crime rates.
Krinsky reminds the administration that “prior to the COVID pandemic, cities across the United States were experiencing historic lows in violent crime” and that “violent crime still remains far below the highs of the 1980’s and 1990’s.”
The designation for these three cities seems to also be in retaliation towards the many anti-racist movements across the country, and Krinsky points out that the designation is an “unfounded attack on local leaders and communities challenging racial injustice and calling for a transformation of the criminal legal system.”
The Trump administration has been promoting its strict law and order policies against anti-racist movements and this designation is another one of those policies, according to Krinsky, who said the Trump administration fails to address “the overwhelmingly peaceful protests that have filled our streets in recent months.”
Instead of associating the anti-racist movement protestors with violence, the Trump administration should take into consideration that these protests “are a reflection of the fact that Americans are yearning for justice and change.”
Krinsky reminds the Trump administration that this designation will not change local prosecutors’ minds on the treatment of protestors because “many elected local prosecutors have stated that they will not press charges against peaceful protestors.”
The US Department of Justice’s designation is an effort by the Trump administration to dissuade public support for both the anti-racist movement and Democrat led local governments, said Krinsky, noting that with elections coming up the Trump administration is making every effort to weaken their political opponents.
The effort to restrict federal funding in Democrat-led cities where anti-racist movements have made bold steps towards advocating for justice, said Krinsky, is aimed at showing these cities they have no choice but to implement strict law and order policies towards protestors.
Krinsky asserts that elected prosecutors wish nothing more than to uphold the anti-racist movement’s First Amendment rights to assemble and will not implement militarized law and order policies towards protestors.
She goes on to state that this designation is just “the latest in the Trump Administration’s ongoing unfounded attacks on elected prosecutors seeking to promote a more sensible, data-driven and community-supported vision of justice.”
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