Politico talks about the latest report from Color of Change and watchdog group LittleSis exposing the corporations that contribute to police foundations. The report shows Bank of America, AT&T, Target, Verizon, Walmart, Starbucks, Uber, Delta Airlines, and major sports teams all give to police foundations — funneling money for special equipment and programs that target Black and Brown communities. Now Color Of Change are members are stepping up to urge companies to divest from police foundations across the country. The full report can be found at https://policefoundations.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Police-Report-2021_10_05_FINALV3.pdf
In the Media
Many of the same corporations trumpeting support for Black lives are duplicitously bankrolling police violence through little-known but powerful police foundations, a new Color Of Change and LittleSis report revealed. The report highlights financial ties between police foundations and 55 Fortune 500 firms. It notes, “There is a police foundation in nearly every major American city, behind almost every police department, backed by wealthy donors and giant multinational corporations. In 2020, many police foundations’ top corporate sponsors made public statements in support of Black Lives Matter while providing a corporate slush fund for police.” COC President Rashad Robinson is quoted, “Only cutting ties with police foundations will show that corporate leaders are serious about protecting Black lives and bringing our police departments into the 21st century… We cannot let corporations talk about ‘Black lives’ on their Twitter feeds while also funding police violence on our streets.”
Criminal justice reform experts are hopeful that if Texas governor Greg Abbott approves a pardon request for George Floyd’s decades old drug charges, it will send a message about the prejudices of a system that disproportionately incarcerates Black and Latino people. At the murder trial, Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyers tried to portray Floyd’s history of drug use as the cause of his death or a justification for the violence inflicted upon him — a common tactic in police defenses. Color Of Change’s Sr Director of Criminal Justice Campaigns Scott Roberts is quoted. “Like many other Black people who are killed by police, George Floyd’s character was tarnished by rightwing media, who used his past conviction record as a way to indict him for his own murder.” Floyd’s 2004 arrest and conviction have come under scrutiny as the undercover officer involved has himself been charged with murder and drug trafficking in Houston. “It will hopefully bring more attention and scrutiny to the miscarriages of justice that play out daily in our communities, police stations, and court rooms.”
The Senate filibuster is the biggest obstacle to passing legislation on a wide range of issues Biden promised to address from immigration, police reform and voting rights to gun control and raising the minimum wage. Groups that helped mobilize the massive turnout in 2020 warn that failing to overturn the filibuster will have disastrous consequences. Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson says, “Is it going to be our job to go out and to explain to people, ‘Hey, we know you turned out in 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic… You put your health on the line… You overcame all sorts of voter suppression tactics, and now let me tell you why none of those things actually happened that you thought you were promised: it’s this thing called the filibuster’ … Democrats are making a huge miscalculation if they think that folks are going to continue to put rocks on their backs and climb uphill if the Democrats are not willing to do the work to undo Jim Crow rules that time and again have been used to stall progress.”
Last week, the bipartisan talks around the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act ended without a deal as both sides came to an impasse over qualified immunity. Bridgett Floyd said she could barely find the words to describe her disappointment in lawmakers for failing to pass sweeping reforms bearing her brother’s name. Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson said he’s unsurprised talks broke down in a “filibuster environment” designed to block civil rights laws. Voters of color turned out in record numbers last year to elect Democrats he says, and they are being let down. “It’s unacceptable that our leaders continue to fail to deliver. Democrats got the majority and they can’t keep telling our community to put aside our safety, our dignity, our humanity in the face of unchecked violent policing.”
National Media Coverage of Gabby Petito’s Disappearance Raises Questions for Missing People Of Color
The investigation into the death of Long Island native Gabby Petito hits close to home for families of still missing loved ones. National media coverage and tips were a huge help in the investigation; now many are asking why the same kind of attention is rarely if ever given to missing people of color. The disparity in national news coverage of missing persons based on race is dramatic. It’s another example of how Black lives simply are not valued. Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson talks about how poor representation on TV shows play into the problem. “We produced a report called ‘Normalizing Injustice’ … and talked to writers and producers, they felt like people would turn off the TV if the victim was a black woman.” It’s a wake-up call, he says, for the media to take a look at their own biases, which have a real effect on safety in communities of color.
Scott Roberts writes about the work that Color Of Change and other racial justice groups are doing to fight back against the barrage of attacks on our right to vote. “This coordinated attack is white supremacy at work. They are doing everything they can to silence us,” he explains. “We’re at a quintessential moment in our democracy. So much of our future depends on our ability to have access to the polls and the levers of power it holds. Yet Congress went on recess with no voting rights legislation passed. Black voters must hold our representatives accountable to ensure this legislative session does not end without the House of Rep. and Senate passing the Freedom to Vote Act.”
Full article at https://bit.ly/30ipSQs
Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson writes about how the destruction wrought by Hurricane Ida is a direct result of systemic racism by decisionmakers who have repeatedly failed to pay attention to climate change or to protect Black neighborhoods the same way they do white ones. Not enough, he says, has changed in the 16 years since Katrina. “Thousands of Louisianans are entering their sixth straight week without power following Hurricane Ida. Meanwhile, displaced residents in search of adequate shelter for their families are piling into any neighbors’ homes that are still intact, some with up to 10 people in a single-wide trailer. Ida has left millions without homes or access to clean water during a pandemic… We must continue to build the power required to keep both politicians and corporations in check.”
Full article at https://bit.ly/2YtZtPk
Color Of Change’s Senior Director of the Media, Culture, and Economic Justice pens a powerful op-ed about how, so often when Black come forward with tales of trauma, they are criticized rather than supported. Diving into the recent case of pop star R. Kelly, she explains how — guilty verdict or not — what justice for survivors of sexual violence really requires is a cultural shift, especially from entertainment media. “Top decision-makers in media have fueled the current culture of violence against Black women and the negligence that follows once they come forward with their stories of sexual violence and abuse… In many instances media has provided platforms to ignore and mock Black women survivors, creating content that condones abuse and profits off of their pain.”
Full article at https://bit.ly/3meyX4h
THE ROOT OP-ED: Black Women Bear the Brunt of Criminalized Pregnancy and Motherhood. Here’s Why We Can’t Afford to Ignore It.
Erika Maye, Color Of Change’s Criminal Justice & Democracy Campaigns Sr Director, writes about how no one should have the threat of incarceration looming over them for pregnancy outcomes. Yet all too often, that is the reality for Black women. Last year, Maya Caston was incarcerated after she gave birth to stillborn twins. Instead of receiving the support and care she desperately needed — and deserved — she was arrested and indicted by the St. Louis County prosecutor. Her story is not unique, and it’s only likely to get worse under the rash of reproductive health bans being passed now. Women can be charged with murder for miscarriage or stillbirth, having untreated mental health disorders, or coping with abuse in unhealthy ways. Low-income Black women in the South are most likely to be targeted.
Full article at https://bit.ly/3Gh7l7U
Color Of Change’s Sr Director of Criminal Justice Scott Roberts writes about Gwen Levi, a 76-year-old grandmother and cancer survivor who was cruelly re-incarcerated after missing a phone call from case manager while taking a computer class. Color Of Change members helped secure Gwen’s freedom. Roberts explains how they are 4,000 others like her on home confinement during COVID-19, and President Biden has the power to grant clemency and free them for good. “Though Levi was home, the conditions of confinement were still stringent — she was required to get an approval of an itinerary to go anywhere, wear an ankle monitor and constant check in before leaving and returning… Home confinement is simply an extension of the prison system, one that tethers people to ankle bracelets and constant surveillance.”
Full article at https://bit.ly/3mkry39.
The Ted Radio Hour’s Guy Raz interviews Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson for their final 2021 main stage event. In this live interview, Rashad talks about finding strength and purpose through activism. On the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, he talks about why activism does not have to center around sadness and tragedy, how activism is about the power of the people, recognizing victories, celebrating moments of joy, and creating a new era of self- and community-care. “Black joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of aspiration. It’s not just about what we are fighting against but what we are fighting for.”
Hear the full interview at https://n.pr/3zwku8s