Internal documents from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation (OSF) and an admission from an OSF representative about their grants addressing “police brutality,” should leave no one surprised that Soros money is floating behind the push in Nashville to establish a civilian oversight board.
“Community Oversight Nashville,” (the Coalition), is the coalition which succeeded in bringing the question of a civilian community oversight board to a referendum. On November 6, 2018, Davidson County voters will decide whether to permanently embed the police oversight board into the governing charter. According to the “Vote No” campaign, this board would require a $10 million dollar tax hike over the next five years to pay for the $1.5 million dollar annual expenditure required by “Amendment #1” on the ballot.
If the police oversight board initiative referred to as “Amendment #1” is passed, civilians appointed by Metro Council members would have broad authority to investigate and punish Metro Nashville police officers.
Opponents of the initiative point out that at least eight layers of bureaucracy which include both civilians and government officials, are already in place to hold MNPD officers accountable.
Organizations that have joined the Coalition and others that support passage of “Amendment #1” have either been direct or indirect recipients of Soros funding.
The TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) each received grants from the Proteus Fund, itself a recipient of millions of dollars from Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF). The grants to the two Tennessee organizations were made through the Proteus “Security & Collaborative Rights” (SCR) initiative.
AMAC has declared itself a partner of the Coalition, pressing for the Nashville police oversight board.
During a breakout session in the 2016 “We the People” immigration conference held in Nashville and hosted by TIRRC, a representative from OSF admitted that they were already addressing “police brutality” through OSF grant programs.
Soros money has also been funneled to both chapters and the parent organizations of Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) and Black Lives Matter (BLM). The Nashville chapters of both groups are listed members of the police oversight Coalition.
BLM, SURJ and AMAC have documented records of opposing alleged police brutality and calling for oversight.
The AMAC and its individual board members, joined “Muslims for Ferguson” organized after Michael Brown’s officer shooting, and signed the 2015 letter, “Call For Justice: Joint Letter on American Muslim Solidarity Against Police Brutality”
BLM was founded to oppose alleged police brutality, and has since expanded its focus.
SURJ-Nashville is a named affiliate of the national SURJ addressing alleged police brutality. Middle TN’s progressive DSA – Democratic Socialists of America is working with SURJ-Nashville to promote voting for the police oversight board.
In 2014, the ACLU received a $50 million grant from Soros’ OSF to launch an eight-year long political campaign focused on criminal justice reform, a broad umbrella of multiple parts including reducing mass incarceration and policing reforms. Along these lines the ACLU has aggressively pursued what they define as “police abuse” and “police brutality.” Their manual, Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual, cites establishing a civilian review board as one measure for “controlling the police.”
The TN-ACLU provides “Know Your Rights” trainings and materials to teach participants about their civil rights when interacting with any branch of law enforcement; not surprisingly, the TN-ACLU supports passage of “Amendment #1.”
OSF internal meeting documents leaked by hackers in 2016, reflect Soros’ interest in dismantling local police forces. Included in the OSF 2015 meeting agenda was an item titled, Police Reform: How to Take Advantage of the Crisis of the Moment and Drive Long-Term Institutional Change in Police-Community Practice:
We will engage grantees who are actively involved in a range of efforts to advance police reform, including as a result of our investment in post-Ferguson activity, to explore the potential and challenges inherent in translating that energy into a national movement.
The “crisis of the moment” was in reference to Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray who died either as a result of police shootings or died while in custody.
The 2015 OSF session featured the Co-founder and President of the Center for Police Equity whose initiatives include the National Justice Database which tracks police behavior to help “diagnose racial bias in policing.” Michael Brown (Ferguson) and Freddie Gray (Baltimore), provided connective tissue for OSF’s criminal justice reform agenda including:
the epidemic of police brutality against young men of color in this country, but also the preponderance of fiscal structures that incentivize police officers’ discriminatory enforcement of minor municipal violations to generate large amounts of local revenue at the expense of the most vulnerable populations, frequently leading to inappropriate incarceration due to inability to pay such fees.
The Nashville Coalition proponents have relied heavily on the Driving While Black report which alleges to document racial bias during traffic stops. The Coalition also refers to the fatal police shooting of Jocques Clemmons in 2017, and Daniel Hambrick in 2018, to justify their demand for the oversight board.
In March 2015, Obama released the report of the White House task force he convened after Ferguson. The report offered over 60 recommendations for reforms in community policing including recommendation 2.8 for “some form of civilian oversight of law enforcement”:
2.8 RECOMMENDATION: Some form of civilian oversight of law enforcement is important in order to strengthen trust with the community. Every community should define the appropriate form and structure of civilian oversight to meet the needs of that community.
Many, but not all, state and local agencies operate with the oversight or input of civilian police boards or commissions. Part of the process of assessing the need and desire for new or additional civilian oversight should include input from and collaboration with police employees because the people to be overseen should be part of the process that will oversee them. This guarantees that the principles of internal procedural justice are in place to benefit both the police and the community they serve.
We must examine civilian oversight in the communities where it operates and determine which models are successful in promoting police and community understanding. There are important arguments for having civilian oversight even though we lack strong research evidence that it works. Therefore we urge action on further research, based on the guiding principle of procedural justice, to find evidence-based practices to implement successful civilian oversight mechanisms.
It was further recommended that U.S. Attorney Eric Holder’s Department of Justice “should expand its research agenda to include civilian oversight” and offer funding assistance to communities looking to establish oversight boards.
The President and past presidents of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) were active in presenting information to Obama’s task force.
OSF funded organizations including Black Lives Matter and Linda Sarsour’s Arab American Association of New York also provided testimony helping to influence the task force.
In May 2015, a short two months after the White House task force released the policing recommendations, included in the leaked OSF internal documents was the following:
The federal government is seeking philanthropic support for a number of its initiatives. In addition to seeking support to advance the implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Taskforce, the White House recently launched the Policing Data Initiative to explore how best to use data and technology to build trust, voice, and solutions to improve community policing. The Department of Justice recently selected the first six cities to host pilot sites for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which was launched last fall to help repair and strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve by exploring strategies intended to enhance procedural justice, reduce implicit bias, and support racial reconciliation.
We are gaining a better understanding of these efforts in order to determine how best USP [OSF U.S. Programs] can use this moment to create a national movement. We have already had a set of preliminary conversations with about a dozen key stakeholders and will undertake a field scan to map the areas of work currently underway to advance police reform, including an assessment of the redundancies and gaps in work, and opportunities for collaboration. As we proceed, we will engage the funder network we helped to establish, the Executive Alliance on Men and Boys of Color, which now includes forty foundations.
NACOLE which was active with the White House policing task force lists in its 2015 -2016 annual report, a $400,000 two-year grant from the DOJ for more research and preparation of a toolkit to help communities establish police oversight boards.
The National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, “a project to improve relationships and increase trust between communities and the criminal justice system” was launched with a $4.75 million dollar grant in 2014, by Holder’s DOJ. This body continues to operate having held its third annual advisory board meeting. The Urban Institute whose past projects were funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute (later renamed to OSF), participates in the work of this advisory board.
Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute is also the co-Founder along with John Podesta, of the Center for American Progress (CAP). Podesta was Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and head of Obama’s transition team after his first election. CAP is another beneficiary of George Soros’ funding largesse. Wartell served as CAP’s Executive Vice-President for over 8 years.
As reported by the Washignton Times, both Soros and CAP have bankrolled Black Lives Matter.
Money is flowing to local groups following the agenda of Soros’ OSF aided by the ACLU playbook also financed by OSF.
It remains to be seen whether Davidson County voters will go along.
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Chris Altois an investigative reporter with The Tennessee Star.