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A broad coalition of civil rights organizations, elected officials, faith leaders, academics, public defenders, and advocates sent a public letter to the Democratic National Committee on Friday calling on the governing body of the Democratic Party to stop accepting funding from police unions and to require its members and candidates to do the same.
As protesters continue to gather around the world to show their opposition to racist policing in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, police unions have routinely been cited as a chief obstacle to reform and accountability for officers responsible for misconduct. The letter urges the DNC to publicly call upon all endorsed candidates and elected officials at all levels of government to return any current gifts or donations tied to law enforcement unions, associations, and political action committees. The signers also ask DNC leaders to require that any candidate seeking a Democratic endorsement first pledge to reject all donations from law enforcement unions or associations.
“The last several weeks and months have once again laid bare the acute need to divest from policing and significantly transform our criminal legal system,” said Ivette Alé, Senior Policy Lead at Dignity and Power Now. “We are still experiencing police violence.”
In the letter, the signers write that politicians must be accountable to their communities, not special interest law enforcement unions that profit from arrests, incarceration, and supervision. Police unions have long had outsized political power, which they have used to preserve massive law enforcement budgets and punitive, tough-on-crime policies. The letter argues that police union campaign contributions present a conflict of interest that makes elected officials hesitant to rein in police abuse or shift money away from law enforcement and toward other community services.
The letter is available here.