Wall Street banks and other big corporations are under pressure to cut ties with nonprofit police foundations, which racial justice activists say are increasingly funding law enforcement practices that fuel violence against Black people
Financial firms have been major donors to the New York City Police Foundation, which last year hosted a gala that honored Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman.
Wall Street banks and other big corporations are under pressure to cut ties with nonprofit police foundations, which racial justice activists say are increasingly funding law enforcement practices that fuel violence against Black people.Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chevron are among the businesses that watchdogs are targeting for making donations to the privately run foundations associated with local police departments. Banks such as JPMorgan Chase have touted multimillion-dollar gifts to the police groups. One foundation last year honored Morgan Stanley’s CEO at its annual gala.
AdvertisementColor of Change, an online racial justice group with 7 million members, is calling on the companies to sever their relationships with the foundations, which for some police departments have become a resource for surveillance technology, SWAT team guns, armor, drones and K-9 dogs. Critics say the gifts by the nonprofits to police departments escape public accountability.
"Our end goal is to have an intervention on the funneling of private money into police forces and into policing," said Scott Roberts, senior director of criminal justice campaigns at Color of Change. "If the police foundations existed to raise money for the families of fallen police officers, we wouldn't say we need to abolish police foundations. It's the specific type of work that they're doing that we object to."
Some corporations are beginning to reconsider the support. Wells Fargo says it has paused donations, while other companies including Goldman Sachs have agreed to hold discussions with activists.The conflict underscores the perils of corporations taking public stands on social issues. Many of the companies have also pledged this year to fight racial inequality following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May, which sparked demonstrations nationwide and a movement to "Defund the Police." But they also have deep ties to law enforcement. Police foundations say much of the work they are doing is aimed at supporting their communities rather than equipping local police.
"When you come out on one side of social justice and cultural issues you risk alienating probably a third to half of the population, something no big business wants to do," said Capital Alpha Partners Director Ian Katz, who tracks financial policy and politics. "It's a reflection of the fact that so many issues have become political and partisan. There are no easy answers for banks here."
The companies facing heat from advocates have long records of supporting police foundations across the country, according to areport from the watchdog group LittleSis, public filings and information available on the foundation websites. Read more: POLITICO »
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