- Democrats’ Support for BLM In August 2015, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) approved a resolution endorsing the BLM movement. The resolution stated that “the DNC joins with Americans across the country in affirming ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the ‘Say Her Name’ efforts to make visible the pain of our fellow and sister Americans as they condemn extrajudicial killings of […]
Democrats’ Support for BLM
In August 2015, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) approved a resolution endorsing the BLM movement. The resolution stated that “the DNC joins with Americans across the country in affirming ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the ‘Say Her Name’ efforts to make visible the pain of our fellow and sister Americans as they condemn extrajudicial killings of unarmed African American men, women and children.” It also stated that “the American Dream … is a nightmare for too many young people stripped of their dignity under the vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow and White Supremacy”; demanded the “demilitarization of police, ending racial profiling, criminal justice reform, and investments in young people, families, and communities”; and asserted that “without systemic reform this state of [black] unrest jeopardizes the well-being of our democracy and our nation.”
On September 16, 2015, BLM activists Brittany Packnett, DeRay McKesson, and Johnetta Elzie met at the White House with President Obama as well as senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and other administration officials. For Packnett, it was her seventh visit to the Obama White House. Afterward, Packnett told reporters that the president personally supported the BLM movement. “He offered us a lot of encouragement with his background as a community organizer, and told us that even incremental changes were progress,” she stated. “He didn’t want us to get discouraged. He said, ‘Keep speaking truth to power.’”
In October 2015, Obama publicly articulated his support for BLM’s agenda by saying: “I think the reason that the organizers [of BLM] used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter. Rather, what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that’s happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”
In October 2015 as well, the DNC invited activists from BLM and Campaign Zero, the latter of which is a BLM affiliate whose professed mission is to help America become a nation “where the police don’t kill people,” to organize and host a town hall forum where the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates could discuss and debate matters related to racial justice. In one of several letters to the leaders of these groups, DNC Chief Executive Officer Amy K. Dacey wrote: “We believe that your organization would be an ideal host for a presidential candidate forum—where all of the Democratic candidates can showcase their ideas and policy positions that will expand opportunity for all, strengthen the middle class and address racism in America.”
In a December 2015 interview on National Public Radio, Obama described Black Lives Matter as a positive force on policing in America, notwithstanding the violence and incendiary rhetoric exhibited by many of its members. Noting that “sometimes progress is a little uncomfortable,” the president claimed that BLM was doing the vital work of shining “sunlight” on the fact that “there’s no black family that hasn’t had a conversation around the kitchen table about driving while black and being profiled or being stopped” by police. “You know,” he elaborated, “during that process there’s going to be some noise and some discomfort, but I’m absolutely confident that over the long term, it leads to a fair, more just, healthier America.”
At a Black History Month event at the White House in February 2016, Obama welcomed BLM leaders DeRay McKesson and Brittany Packnett (the latter of whom was one of the key “Hands up, don’t shoot” propagandists who in 2014 promoted the lie that a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri had shot black teenager Michael Brown in cold blood as he tried to surrender). Obama also welcomed such notables as activist Al Sharpton, Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherrilyn Ifill. In the course of his remarks, Obama said: “But we’ve also got some young people here who are making history as we speak. People like Brittany [Packnett], who served on our Police Task Force in the wake of Ferguson, and has led many of the protests that took place there and shined a light on the injustice that was happening. People like DeRay Mckesson, who has done some outstanding work mobilizing in Baltimore around these issues. And to see generations continuing to work on behalf of justice and equality and economic opportunity is greatly encouraging to me…. They are much better organizers than I was at their age. I am confident they are going to take America to new heights.”
On July 10, 2016, Obama likened BLM to the abolition, suffrage, and civil rights movements of yesteryear, saying: “The abolition movement was contentious. The effort for women to get the right to vote was contentious and messy. There were times when activists might have engaged in rhetoric that was overheated and occasionally counterproductive. But the point was to raise issues so that we, as a society, could grapple with it. The same was true with the Civil Rights Movement, the union movement, the environmental movement, the antiwar movement during Vietnam. And I think what you’re seeing now is part of that longstanding tradition.”
On July 13, 2016 — six days after a BLM supporter in Dallas had shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven others — President Obama hosted BLM leaders DeRay Mckesson, Brittany Packnett, and Mica Grimm at a four-and-a-half-hour meeting at the White House. Also invited were Al Sharpton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D), St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), and some police chiefs.
In April 2020, Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Congratulations to all who are out on the streets today peacefully protesting. Together, we will end police brutality. Together, we will defeat Trump. Together, we will fight for a government based on justice and compassion, not greed and lies.”
On May 30, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, lamenting the “injustice in the criminal justice system,” tweeted: “Why are black people dying from #COVID at higher rates than white people? Why are health outcomes worse in communities of color? Why did George Floyd die? Why does this happen again and again? It’s all related.” Approximately an hour later he tweeted a list of the names of 18 nonwhites affected by police violence, and added the caption: “Yes, the names change, but the color doesn’t.” Some 20 minutes after that, Cuomo again tweeted: “You are in denial if you think the death of George Floyd was an isolated incident.” At a press briefing the day before, Cuomo voiced his support for those who were protesting George Floyd’s death, saying: “Nobody is sanctioning the arson, and the thuggery and the burglaries, but the protesters and the anger and the fear and the frustration? Yes. Yes. And the demand is for justice.”
In June 2020 — soon after the infamous May 25 death of George Floyd — Kamala Harris publicly supported the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), which made bail payments on behalf of people who were arrested for their participation in the George Floyd riots in Minneapolis and were awaiting trial. The senator tweeted: “If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota.” Thanks in part to Harris’ endorsement, MFF received more than $35 million in donations. Moreover, at least 13 staff members of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign made personal donations to the fund.
In early June 2020 — just days after the infamous May 25 death of George Floyd — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rejected what she called “bland statements” of support for BLM by corporate America, and she exhorted U.S. companies to take concrete action to support BLM’s agendas. “This moment calls for transformation,” she tweeted on June 3. “Your statement should include your organization’s INTERNAL commitments to change, particularly if you’ve been called on it before… Give people change.”
On June 11, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced his strong agreement with BLM’s message and agenda. “[Black Lives Matter] is saying, ‘Why does this system devalue black lives?’” Cuomo said. “Why are they only black lives who get violated by the system?” “This is inherent racism, this is decades and decades of injustice, even in our lifetimes,” he added.
In a June 17, 2020 appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Senator Kamala Harris stated that the nationwide Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that had erupted following the death of George Floyd would, and should, continue indefinitely. Said Harris:
“They’re not going to stop. This is a movement, I’m telling you. They’re not going to stop and everyone beware, because they’re not going to stop. They’re not going to stop before Election Day in November, and they’re not going to stop after Election Day. Everyone should take note of that on both levels. They’re not going to let up and they should not and we should not…. The only way we are going to truly achieve change is when there are people in the system who are willing or pushing to do it and when there are those of us who are outside the system demanding it. I am very clear that some of the success we have been able to achieve around criminal justice reform would not have happened in recent years without Black Lives Matter.”
On June 25, 2020 — one month after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Rep. Ayanna Pressley told TIME magazine that she supported BLM’s calls to defund police departments nationwide and to pay blacks a “refund” and “true reparations.” “This is about investment in communities,” she added. “There’s a reason why the Congressional Black Caucus submits an alternative budget every year. Because we know that our communities have been historically under resourced, underinvested in and divested [from].” Asserting that police “needn’t play a role in every part of society,” Pressley argued that communities should invest more money in social workers, counselors, and school nurses instead.
That same day (June 25), Pressley delivered a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives in which she said that the BLM movement was a mandate from the people, and that it was “time” for Americans to “pay us [blacks] what you owe us.” Added the congresswoman:
“I rise today on behalf of every Black family that has been robbed of a child. On behalf of every family member that has been forced to see their loved one lynched on national television. Driving while Black. Jogging while Black. Sleeping while Black. We have been criminalized for the very way we show up in the world. Under the harsh gaze of far too many, my Black body is seen as a threat, always considered armed.
“Centuries of institutionalized oppression will not be undone overnight, for racism in America is as structural as the marble pillars of this very institution. With the power of the pen we must legislate accountability, dismantle these systems, and move in the direction of justice and healing…. Our Black skin is not a crime, it is the beautiful robe of nation builders.”
During a June 19, 2020 interview on CNN, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors declared that President Donald Trump was “not fit for office.” “Trump not only needs to not be in office in November,” she said, “but he should resign now. Trump needs to be out of office. And so what we are going to push for is a move to get Trump out…. [O]ur goal is to get Trump out.”
During a June 30, 2020 appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, New York mayor Bill de Blasio announced that some of the $1 billion that was being cut from the NYPD budget would be used to fund the painting of the words “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue, directly in front of Trump Tower. “We’re going to take this moment in history and amplify it by taking the ‘Black Lives Matter’ symbolism and putting it all over this city, including right in front of Trump Tower,” said de Blasio. “It’s an important message to the nation, and, obviously, we want the president to hear it because he has never shown respect for those three words.” In a subsequent photo-op, de Blasio himself actually helped paint the words on the street, as did his wife Chirlane McCray and activist Al Sharpton.
During a July 9, 2020 interview with CNN, de Blasio stated that he would permit BLM protesters to continue marching through New York City’s streets, but that all other large events in the city—e.g., the West Indian American Day Carnival, the Dominican Day Parade, and the San Gennaro Festival—were being cancelled through September because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. “This is a historic moment of change,” said the mayor. “We have to respect that but also say to people [that] the kinds of gatherings we’re used to, the parades, the fairs—we just can’t have that while we’re focusing on health right now.”
In a July 12, 2020 interview on MSNBC’s AM Joy program with Joy Reid, Rep. Maxine Waters said: “This justice system is broken. It has never really been in our [blacks’] favor, and it has basically been responsible for ensuring that we could never ever get beyond this suppression and this oppression that has been forced upon us for so many years. So those who criticize Black Lives Matter, they can continue to do that, but I want to tell you the time has come now where we are joined by so many others who really were not there for us in the past. You saw it in all of the protests where you had whites and blacks and Asians and old and young, all saying something is wrong with this country. Something is wrong with our criminal justice system. Something is wrong with our policing. It is racism.”
In August 2020, Senator Kamala Harris, who had just been named as Joe Biden‘s vice presidential running mate, said, in a reference to BLM and its allies: “[W]e’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country, demanding change.”
During an August 2020 interview with The 19th, a Texas-based news organization, Harris said: “Black women pay attention to the issue issues. Black women are motivated to vote for the people who represent their priorities and their needs. And so when you look at everything that relates to what we’ve discussed in terms of childcare when you look at what we’re talking about in terms of jobs, health care when you look at what we need to do to address racial and not only disparities in terms of the healthcare system and in terms of the economy and education system, we need to speak about systemic racism, and when you have one ticket that can say the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ and another who has full-time sowing hate and division in our country, those are the things that are going to motivate black women to vote. a point in pride about a black woman being on the ticket, it takes more than just that to motivate black women to vote.”
On August 14, 2020, a group of dozens of BLM protesters in Seattle marched through a residential neighborhood and shouted demands that the white residents there give up their homes so that blacks could inhabit them instead. Said one of the protesters: “Do you know that before your white ass came here, this was all black people? Do you know people like you came in here and basically bought all the land from the black people for less than what it was worth, kicked them out so you could live here? Do you know that? ‘Cause if you don’t, now you f–king do — now do something about it! So how do you plan to fix it? As a gentrifier, because you are part of that problem.” Said another: “Give black people back their homes! You’re sitting there comfortably — comfortable as f—k as if they didn’t help gentrify this neighborhood! I used to live in this neighborhood, and my family was pushed out, and you’re sitting up there having a good time with your other white friends!” The next day — August 15, 2020 — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez refused to condemn BLM protesters who had issued these demands. “Since this is happening in Seattle,” said the congresswoman, “I don’t have as close of a view on what’s happening … [but] it’s important for us to enact legislation and policy that actually addresses the core reasons behind why all of this kind of disruption is happening. Until we do that, this is going to keep occurring, whether we want it to or not.” Ocasio-Cortez also called it “extremely important that we establish just policies and address the core issues of brutality in order for us to come together.”
While Democrat-led American cities nationwide were continuing to be overrun by violent riots sparked by the death of George Floyd — riots in which Antifa and Black Lives Matter played a major role — Rep. Ayanna Pressley said on August 15, 2020: “This is as much about public outcry, organizing and mobilizing and applying pressure, so that this GOP-led Senate and these governors that continue to carry water for this administration, putting American people in harm’s way, turning a deaf ear to the needs of our families and our communities – hold them accountable. Make the phone calls, send the emails, show up. You know, there needs to be unrest in the streets for as long as there’s unrest in our lives.”
On August 15, 2020, John Thompson, a candidate campaigning for a seat in the Minnesota State House, delivered an angry diatribe during a BLM protest outside the Hugo, Minnesota home of Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll. Claiming that Kroll was the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Thompson shouted: “I didn’t come here to be peaceful…. Why the fuck is we so peaceful in this [homophobic slur] neighborhood? Fuck your motherfucking peace, white racist motherfuckers!” When he saw a local resident holding a Blue Lives Matter flag in honor of the police, Thompson told the man to “stick it up [his] ass,” adding: “Blue lives don’t mean shit to black people. Fuck Hugo, Minnesota!” Suggesting also that the entire town of Hugo deserved to be burned down, Thompson stated: “This whole goddamn state burned down for 20 goddamn dollars”—a reference to the counterfeit $20 bill that George Floyd had passed to a merchant just prior to his fateful encounter with Officer Chauvin—“you think we give a fuck about burning Hugo down?”
During her August 17, 2020 address to the Democratic National Convention, former First Lady Michelle Obama cited the names of two black individuals who had died, at least in part, as a result of altercations they had with white police officers. Said Mrs. Obama: “And here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office.”
On August 18, 2020, The Washington Post reported: “The Democratic Party fully embraced the imagery and themes of the Black Lives Matter movement on its convention’s first night Monday [August 17], highlighting family members of Black men who have been killed by police and showing footage of marches through American cities. At one point, the program was paused so viewers could observe a moment of silence for George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police ignited the current racial reckoning.”
Former President Barack Obama spoke at the 2020 Democratic National Convention and applauded the spectacle of “Americans of all races joining together to declare, in the face of injustice and brutality at the hands of the state, that Black Lives Matter.” Addressing BLM and its supporters directly, Obama added:
“To the young people who led us [in protests] this summer, telling us we need to be better—in so many ways, you are this country’s dreams fulfilled…. And what I want you to know is that for all its messiness and frustrations, your system of self-government can be harnessed to help you realize those convictions. For all of us. You can give our democracy new meaning. You can take it to a better place. You’re the missing ingredient – the ones who will decide whether or not America becomes the country that fully lives up to its creed.”
In an August 2020 photo essay in which Vanity Fair magazine “celebrat[ed] the founders of Black Lives Matter [BLM] … and more on the forefront of change,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called it “profoundly exciting” that the Marxist/anarchist revolutionaries of BLM and Antifa were “discovering their own power” and “educating others” by participating in the massive wave of protests and violent riots that had swept the country since late May. Some excerpts:
- “I believe that people are really discovering their own power in a broader sense that we have not seen in a very long time. So, yes, we’re starting to see some of this emerging power at the ballot box and at the polls, but we’re also starting to see it in the streets, and people standing up for themselves in the workplace, in organizing themselves and their labor, and it’s profoundly exciting. And it’s really incredible to see how people are really taking the reins for themselves in the direction of systemic change.”
- “I think that all these people in the streets that are educating others, that are engaging in this elevated and amplified way, have really emboldened me, and it’s given me a lot of courage and encouragement to try to match the energy of everyone else right now who’s really fighting for progressive change.”
In that same photo essay,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib said: “When I see this movement on the street—that’s where transformative change really starts and it’s hitting us right here in the halls of Congress. It’s been powerful to watch it happen.”
In a September 2020 interview during the NAACP’s national convention (which was held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic), Kamala Harris praised the “brilliance” and “impact” of what she characterized as BLM’s very “necessary” protests. Said the senator: “Nothing that we have achieved that has been about progress, in particular around civil rights, has come without a fight, and so I always am going to interpret these protests as an essential component of evolution in our country — as an essential component or mark of a real democracy…. I actually believe that ‘Black Lives Matter’ has been the most significant agent for change within the criminal justice system.”
As of May 4, 2022, the Democratic National Committee website featured a page titled “Black Lives Matter Organizing Resources.” Prominently displayed on this page was a link to an “extensive list of petitions” that “Black Lives Matter has organized.”
BLM’s Support for Democrats
On August 28, 2020, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), an anti-capitalist coalition that includes BLM and dozens of other radical organizations, held a virtual Black National Convention whose objective was “to build a BLACK united front” and to “reach and engage four million Black voters across the U.S., build infrastructure of Black political engagement that transcends the 2020 election season, and create and ratify a policy platform for the first 100 days of the next [Joe Biden] administration.” Tens of thousands of people participated in the event, which characterized the upcoming presidential election as “the biggest election of our time, and long after.” Among other things, the convention paid tribute to the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana, where such luminaries as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale had first introduced a black national agenda.
One of the featured speakers at the M4BL convention, activist and political strategist Jessica Byrd, said: “The uprising in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and countless other murders from police and vigilante violence along with the alarming Black death rate due to COVID-19 has exposed what we can no longer hide—America does not value Black lives. But we also know that rising up and taking action is how Black communities have secured our rights and dignity throughout this nation’s divided history.” Other keynote speakers included BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, #MeToo movement co-founder Tarana Burke, and Dream Defenders co- founder Phillp Agnew.
On October 9, 2020, as the 2020 elections approached, BLM launched a Political Action Committee to “actively engage in the general election” by supporting Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and other Democrat political candidates. Patrisse Cullors explained the rationale for the creation of this PAC: “We want to be able to not just speak in ‘get out the vote’ language [i.e., the language of an activity allowed under the rules governing tax-exempt foundations]. Black Lives Matter is launching our PAC so we can talk directly to voters about who we think that they should be voting for and what we think they should be voting on” [activities a tax-exempt foundation is barred from pursuing].
Two weeks after BLM’s former fiscal sponsor, Thousand Currents, had transferred $66.5 million into BLMGNF’s possession in October 2020, a woman named Dyane Pascall — in a transaction that would be kept secret for the next 18 months — took nearly $6 million that had been donated to BLMGNF and used it to pay cash for a vast Southern California estate that included a 6,500 square-foot mansion with several fireplaces, a soundstage, a pool and bungalow, and parking facilities to accommodate more than 20 vehicles. Pascall was: (a) the financial manager for Janaya and Patrisse Consulting, a Limited Liability Corporation run by BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors and her spouse, Janaya Khan; and (b) the chief financial officer for Trap Heals, a nonprofit organization headed by Damon Turner, the father of Patrisse Cullors’ only child. Before long, BLM leaders began using the mansion for a variety of different purposes — including as a set for recording personal and recreational videos. Cullors, for her part, used the house as a venue for her son’s birthday party, and for a January 2021 gathering to celebrate President Biden’s inauguration.
In the immediate aftermath of the November 3, 2020 presidential election, BLM protesters, who had spent months “preparing” a response in the event of a disputed election, threatened violent unrest if Biden were not declared the winner. Providing a glimpse of the mayhem that awaited the country if Trump were to prevail, massive throngs of screaming BLM protesters in city after city swarmed the streets with bullhorns, raised fists, and flags and banners demanding a Biden victory.
On November 7, 2020 — the same day that several mainstream media outlets declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election — BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors sent a letter to Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris. Cullors signed the letter “on behalf of the Black Lives Matter Global Network,” and began by congratulating Biden and Harris on their reported victory. She then demanded political payback for her organization’s efforts to get them elected:
“We are requesting a meeting with you both to discuss the expectations that we have for your administration and the commitments that must be made to Black people. We want something for our vote. Without the resounding support of Black people, we would be saddled with a very different electoral outcome. In short, Black people won this election. Alongside Black-led organizations around the nation, Black Lives Matter invested heavily in this election. ‘Vote and Organize’ became our motto, and our electoral justice efforts reached more than 60 million voters. We want something for our vote.
“We want to be heard and our agenda to be prioritized. We issue these expectations not just because Black people are the most consistent and reliable voters for Democrats, but also because Black people are truly living in crisis in a nation that was built on our subjugation. Up until this point, the United States has refused to directly reckon with the way that it devalues Black people and devastates our lives. This cannot continue. Black people can neither afford to live through the vitriol of a Trump-like Presidency, nor through the indifference of a Democrat-controlled government that refuses to wrestle with its most egregious and damnable shame.
“President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris: both of you discussed addressing systemic racism as central to your election campaigns. Both of you also expressed regrets regarding your record on issues impacting Black people. The best way to ensure that you remedy past missteps and work towards a more just future for Black people — and by extension all people — is to take your direction from Black grassroots organizers that have been engaged in this work for decades, with a legacy that spans back to the first arrival of enslaved Africans.
“We look forward to meeting with you at your convenience to begin the immediate work of Black liberation. We would like to be actively engaged in your Transition Team’s planning and policy work. Again, congratulations on your win. Let’s get to work!”
BLM’s 2020 Impact Report, which was published in early 2021, named five BLM-endorsed Democrats “for winning [elections] on a platform that invested in Black lives”: Cori Bush (U.S. House, Missouri), Jamaal Bowman (U.S. House, New York), Nikema Williams (U.S. House, Georgia), Jose Garza (District Attorney, Texas), and Shayla Adams-Stafford (Prince George’s Board of Education District, Maryland). The same Impact Report boasted that Black Lives Matter’s PAC had also helped “to ensure [that] both Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were victorious” in the January 2021 Georgia runoff elections which gave Democrats de facto control of the U.S. Senate.