Despite President Biden saying he opposes the “defund the police” movement, at least four of its proponents have met with top administration officials at the White House since he took office, according to a new report.
Fox News, citing a review of visitor logs, reported Monday that Rashad Robinson, the president of left-wing group Color of Change, visited the executive mansion in the summer of 2021. The outlet added that Robinson appeared to have met with Cedric Richmond, who at the time was Biden’s director of public engagement.
Color of Change was among the supporters of an effort to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department following the murder of George Floyd by officer Derek Chauvin.
Advocates called for the MPD to be dismantled and replaced by a public safety department that would take a “comprehensive public health approach” to law-breaking.
Color of Change ran a copy of the petition to disband the police department on its website and urged its supporters to sign it.
”I’m calling on you to invest in communities, and not continue to bloat the budget of our police department. Policing does not keep us safe, communities do,” the petition read.
“My demand is simple: reduce spending on policing and invest in our communities,” it continued.
Robinson has also voiced support for Assata Shakur, the former Black Panther who fled prison in 1979 while serving a life sentence for the execution-style murder of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster during a 1973 traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, is believed to have fled to Cuba. She is listed on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list with a reward of $1 million.
“On Assata Shakur’s birthday, we celebrate by being bolder in our protests, louder in our demands for abolition and thinking bigger in our plans for revolution,” Robinson wrote on Twitter in July 2020.
Robinson also served on the board of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, a Seattle-based grantmaking group that it says remains “vigilant about identifying and undoing racism and white supremacy, on every level.”
Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, also has a seat on the board.
Shortly after Robinson and Abrams joined the board in May 2021, the foundation urged philanthropies to increase funding for groups seeking to end police violence.
”The violence continues every day. So must our support for the movements capable of ending it. There are many questions to ask: How do we actually change or dismantle policing as we know it? Who is ready to take in more funding to achieve those goals?” the group said in a statement on its website.
Carmen Rojas, the president and CEO of the foundation, also visited the White House in December 2021 and appeared to meet with Nia Page, a special assistant to Richmond, who left the White House in April to join the Democratic National Committee.
Rojas has also voiced support for defunding the police.
“We must be unwavering in our commitment to freedom,” she posted on Twitter in April 2021. “The best way to realize it is to defund the police and support abolition. Period.”
In May 2020, Rojas tweeted an excerpt from an article calling for an end to police unions.
“Abolishing police unions as part of the broader fight to defund, demilitarize, and ultimately dismantle the U.S. police force as it currently exists. Labor leaders should seize upon this crucial moment to fully embrace this aim—and some already have,” the tweet said.
Latosha Brown, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, also appeared in the White House visitor logs, according to Fox News.
Her contact person in July 2021 was Vincent Evans, who worked in Vice President Kamala Harris’ office before leaving in January 2022 to become the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“We are proud to be partner in the #DemocracyFrontlinesFund, created to leverage millions of new dollars to fund Black-led organizers fighting for free and fair elections, and working to defund prisons and police,” Black Lives Matter tweeted in September 2020.
Tylik McMillan, who serves as the “National Director of Youth [and] College” at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, visited the White House four times between April and December last year, the report said.
“Police don’t make communities safe, but opportunities make communities safe,” McMillan said in July 2020. “What we’re saying is that a defund to the police is a refund to the people.”
The White House did not respond to requests for comment by Fox News.
Biden has tried to distance himself from those calling to defund the police.
In his State of the Union address in March, he urged cities and states to use money in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to invest in policing.
“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. The answer is to fund the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities,” he said at the time.