Activists Pressure Firms To End Police Foundation Funds

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Wall Street banks and other big corporations are under pressure to cut ties with nonprofit police foundations, which racial justice activists say are funding practices that fuel violence against Blacks. 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, Politico reports. Banks such as JPMorgan Chase have touted multimillion-dollar gifts to the police groups. Color of Change, an online racial justice group with 7 million members, wants 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 nonprofits’ gifts to police escape public accountability.

Scott Roberts of Color of Change said, “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. Police foundations say much of their work is aimed at supporting their communities rather than equipping local police. Wells Fargo and Bank of America are among recent supporters of the Atlanta Police Foundation, which maintains cameras in a city-wide surveillance system known as “Operation Shield.” Watchdogs are also focusing on the Los Angeles Police Foundation for its role in helping fund surveillance systems. Color of Change escalated its work on the issue after the Atlanta Police Foundation paid $500 “bonuses” to officers after prosecutors filed murder charges against a former officer in the June 12 killing of Rayshard Brooks.

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