Donald Trump is actively trying to cripple American cities run by Democrats. Citing violence associated with ongoing protests against systemic racism and police violence, the U.S. president is ordering federal officials to withhold funding for cities the administration refers to as “anarchist jurisdictions,” The New York Times reports. Making such a move would threaten “billions of dollars for many of the country’s largest urban hubs,” but Trump believes it would strengthen his reelection campaign, according to The Times. 

The Times reports:

Mr. Trump laid out the directive in a memo, released Wednesday, to Russell T. Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. It accuses state and local officials of abdicating their duties.

“Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities,” Mr. Trump wrote in the memo, mentioning a few cities specifically: Portland, Ore.; Washington; Seattle; and the president’s birth city, New York. “My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.”

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Senior Legislative Counsel Kanya Bennett slammed the president’s decision in a statement. “There is an urgent need to divest from programs like the Department of Defense 1033 program, which gives military weapons to local police and suggests it’s okay to treat communities like war zones and their residents like enemies,” she said. “But instead, this president wants to broadly strip funding from those cities that may dare to resist his lawless agenda. The president should not hold hostage taxpayer funds as part of yet another campaign stunt that, at its core, seeks to suppress demands for racial justice and transformational changes to our policing institutions.” 

Trump, who titled Wednesday’s memo, “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence and Destruction in American Cities,” created an uproar among officials in targeted cities, according to The Times. Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter to say New York City wasn’t taking this attack lightly:

According to The Times:

An effort by Mr. Trump to curtail funding to so-called sanctuary cities was challenged in court, but a federal appeals court ruled this year that the administration was within its rights to withhold some funds, although three other appeals courts have ruled that the administration did not have the authority. 

Per Trump’s memo, AG Barr has 14 days to determine which cities qualify as “anarchist jurisdictions.” Apparently, these are the places where officials have “permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures,” according to Trump.

The memo also states that Vought has 30 days to manage “heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of federal grants.”

The Times continues:

Among the factors that Mr. Barr is to consider in determining such jurisdictions are “whether a jurisdiction forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction,” whether a jurisdiction has pulled back law enforcement after being prevented access to a certain area and “whether a jurisdiction disempowers or defunds police departments.” 

“We will be closely monitoring any actions resulting from this unfounded and irresponsible memorandum,” Bennett said. “[It] accomplishes nothing more than to stoke the flames of racism and division across this country.”