The Justice Department designated New York City, Seattle and Portland as "jurisdictions permitting violence and destruction of property" on Monday.
President Donald Trump released a memo earlier this month instructing the department to find ways to slash federal funding after determining which US cities are "anarchist jurisdictions."
"We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance," Attorney General William Barr said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday: "You can't bully New Yorkers."
The Department of Justice escalated its threats to cut federal funding to major US cities by designating New York City, Seattle, and Portland as jurisdictions that permit anarchy and violence on Monday.
The department said the cities have "permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities," according to a statement Monday.
The move is in response to a memo from President Donald Trump earlier this month instructing Attorney General William Barr and Department of Homeland Security acting secretary Chad Wolf to find ways to slash billions of federal dollars directed to the three 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," Barr said in the statement Monday. "We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance."
Trump has attempted to crack down on Democratic-run cities where racial injustice protests have sparked to boost his reelection campaign, casting himself as the president of "law and order." City and state leaders have regularly clashed with the president and have pushed back on the order, questioning its legality and suggesting its purely political in nature.
"Your words don't carry much weight on this topic because the Supreme Court has spoken," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. "The president of the United States can't interfere with federal funding for cities and states just 'cause he feels like it. We have laws in this country."
"I believe the president is fundamentally a bully," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. "It doesn't work in New York because you can't bully New Yorkers. We just don't get bullied. We don't respond well to it."
The department stated plans to evaluate more areas that will fall under the identification and will update its list as required.
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