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Democratic mayors rip Trump funding threat: We're not 'political pawns'

Four Democratic mayors fired back at President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE on Thursday after he threatened to cut off funding for certain cities grappling with what he called "lawless" protests.

New York City's Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioCuomo asks New York AG to appoint independent attorney to investigate sexual harassment claims Ocasio-Cortez: Detailed sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo 'painful to read' De Blasio calls for investigation into former aide's claims against Cuomo MORE, Portland's Ted Wheeler, Seattle's Jenny DurkanJenny DurkanWashington state officials warn providers offering VIP vaccine access Seattle mayor announces she won't run for reelection At a time of crisis, America's mayors are ready to partner with President-elect Biden MORE and Washington, D.C.'s Muriel BowserMuriel BowserAbigail Breslin mourns loss of father from COVID-19 NAACP president accuses Trump of having operated under 'white supremacist doctrine' DC vaccine sign-ups plagued with technical problems MORE released a joint statement responding to the president's threat, saying they will not be used as “political pawns.”

“Our cities, and the millions of Americans who we represent, are not President Trump’s political pawns. We are confronting unprecedented challenges—fighting back a pandemic and economic devastation without another stimulus. Now, instead of leadership from the White House, we are faced with new attacks that are unlawful, unconstitutional and will be undoubtedly defeated in court,” the mayors said. 

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“President Trump needs to wake up to the reality facing our cities—and our entire country—and realize he is not above the law.” 

The fiery rebuke came a day after Trump signed a memo ordering federal agencies to provide the Office of Management and Budget with a report detailing all federal funds provided to the four cities within two weeks.

Each of the cities have seen protests against systemic racism and police brutality in recent months. Many of the demonstrations have been peaceful, though some have devolved into looting and clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

“My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” Trump wrote. “To ensure that Federal funds are neither unduly wasted nor spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities.”

The memo is the latest salvo of the president’s “law and order” message as the country undergoes a national reckoning over systemic racism.

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Cities across the U.S. have been roiled by protests after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May. The demonstrations have been fueled by other high-profile shootings, including those of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and most recently Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

Trump has cast the protesters as “anarchists” who would spread violence if he loses reelection and has laid blame for the unrest at the feet of Democratic mayors and governors.

"As a result of these State and local government policies, persistent and outrageous acts of violence and destruction have continued unabated in many of America’s cities, such as Portland, Seattle, and New York,” the federal memo states. 

Several critics have fired back, accusing the president of inflaming racial tensions and noting that the demonstrations are happening under his watch. 

“This pandemic, a struggling economy, and a national awakening to the reality of systemic injustice in America all call for a time of national healing and unity, but this effort is intended only to inflame tensions and divide us. [The memo] is without merit, and it would hurt the people that a president is entrusted to protect,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors Executive Director Tom Cochran.