New York City, Portland, Seattle named 'anarchist jurisdictions'
Portland, New York and Seattle named "anarchist jurisdictions" by the Justice Department, after a Trump executive order will review federal funding.
WASHINGTON – As protests against systemic racism continue across the U.S. and law and order becomes a major theme in the 2020 presidential race, a new poll shows most Americans say cities are under siege.
Roughly two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed say they believe protesters and counter-protesters are overwhelming American cities, according to a USA TODAY/Ipsos poll. That majority shows stark partisan divisions that echo the messages coming from Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden: Significantly more Republicans than Democrats say cities are under siege, 83% to 48%, respectively.
Those who live in rural areas (71%) are more likely to agree with that sentiment than those in urban areas (59%).
As Americans reckon with racial injustice and inequality after a series of high-profile deaths of Black people, protesters have called for change, especially in terms of policing. Violence and looting have broken out at several protests, though the movement is staying largely peaceful.
The summer of strife has played out while the nation is in the throes of an increasingly contentious presidential race. Biden denounced violent agitators but said he believes the protesters' message is right.
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Trump has ramped up his rhetoric, referring to himself as the "law and order president" and calling for law enforcement to crack down on the protesters, calling them "thugs" and "very bad people." Trump's Department of Justice on Monday labeled New York City, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle "anarchist jurisdictions" that may lose federal funding because of the violence. Trump has used the unrest as a direct appeal to white suburban women to back him again after he won their support over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Suburban voters are crucial in the 2020 battle for several swing states, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Michelle Brown, who lives in Beaverton, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, says Trump has “done a lot of good for this country.” Portland has seen weeks of protests since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Trump sent in federal law enforcement.
The use of federal officials in U.S. cities was highly controversial, but more than half (56%) of Americans say they believe the government should deploy more police to get protests and unrest under control, according to the Ipsos poll. Fifty-four percent say people should arm themselves to protect private property during protests.
“I think Portland is under siege because of all of the Black Lives Matter movement,” says Brown, who answered the poll and plans to vote for Trump. “They want to just cause strife. They don't care about the life, they just want to cause breakdown in the United States as a whole.”
Brown, 51, says demonstrators in Portland have taken over, pointing to a sit-in by protesters in the lobby of Mayor Ted Wheeler’s condominium.
The poll was conducted between Sept. 17 to Sept. 18, with 1,108 adults surveyed online in English. There is a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Portland protests cause journalists, cops to clash
For nearly 100 days, reporters have been covering protests that often turn violent in Portland, Oregon. In the chaos, some journalists have been injured or arrested, leading to a lawsuit against federal authorities sent in to help in July. (Sept. 3)
Crime and coronavirus are voters' top issues
Crime is one of the top concerns for Americans, according to the poll, second only to the coronavirus pandemic.
More than one in three (34%) Americans say crime, violence or unrest is the most worrying topic, and COVID-19 ranks No. 1 at 44%. There is again a partisan divide in which unrest is the top issue for 42% of Republicans compared with 27% of Democrats. The majority of Democrats (56%) say their top concern is COVID-19.
Despite many protesters calling for justice for those who have died or been harmed by police violence, almost two in three (63%) Americans say they believe assaults on police officers have gotten worse in the past six months, according to the poll. That's more than the 49% who say assaults by police officers has gotten worse.
Cornelia Cheatham, of Kyle, Texas, says she doesn't feel safe in Trump's America because of the racial climate.
"If Trump wins, I feel it will be dangerous for minorities," Cheatham, 60, says. "Because we have no guards to feel safe anymore. Everything's been stripped away from us. The way he's dividing the nation. Everybody's going to get guns, and people are scared, and they'll shoot you on sight."
Cheatham, who supports the Black Lives Matter movement, says she believes that if Biden is elected, "there'll be a change, and he'll bring everybody together."
"If not, I think it will be eventually a race war," she says.
Dawn Tuller, 42, of Hebron, Nebraska, says that although she doesn’t know exactly what the president has done to address the protests, she agrees with his messaging.
“I like the way that he's been doing things,” she says.
What causes the violence at protests?
There are various factors Americans say make protests more dangerous. Poll respondents point to both conservative and mainstream media, as well as the president.
Six in 10 Americans say the mainstream media has made the protests more dangerous, followed by the Black Lives Matter movement at 59% and Trump at 54%. A majority of Americans say antifa (53%), conservative militias (52%) and conservative media (51%) contribute to protests becoming more dangerous.
Less than one-third (29%) say Biden has made the protests more dangerous.
Among Republicans, 81% say the Black Lives Matter movement makes protests more dangerous, compared with 41% of Democrats. Comparatively, 72% of Democrats say the same is true about conservative militias, compared with 41% of Republicans.
When broken down by party, 25% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats blame Trump for making the protests more dangerous. More than half (58%) of Republicans and only 7% of Democrats say the same of Biden.
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