Washington, DC – Former Vice President Joe Biden’s proposed U.S. Treasury Department nominees met up with Black Lives Matter (BLM) and other activist groups who are pushing to defund police.
Janet Yellen, Biden’s designee for Treasury Secretary, and Wally Adeyemo, his Deputy Treasury Secretary pick, sat down with “defund the police” movement leaders on Monday, including BLM co-founder Alicia Garza, Working Families Party National Director Maurice Mitchell, and Color of Change President Rashad Robinson, according to FOX News.
Yellen has previously said that Biden’s administration has an “obligation” to “address deeper structural problems” in the United States, including gender and racial inequality, according to the news outlet.
Just one week before Yellen and Adeyemo’s meeting, Biden cautioned another group of civil rights leaders about pushing their “defund the police” agenda too hard prior to the Georgia Senate runoff vote.
“I also don’t think we should get too far ahead ourselves on dealing with police reform in that, because they’ve already labeled us as being ‘defund the police,’” Biden said in leaked recordings from the sit-down, according to FOX News. “Anything we put forward in terms of the organizational structure to change policing – which I promise you, will occur. Promise you.”
“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police,” he added. “We’re not. We’re talking about holding them accountable.”
Holding back on calls for police reform until after the Georgia runoff vote could benefit Democrats and the police defunding efforts down the line, he noted.
“Think about how much do we push between now and Jan. 5,” he said, before assuring the group he would be sure to establish a “full-blown commission” to examine police reform once the race was over, according to FOX News.
Notably absent from the Dec. 8 meeting with Biden was BLM, who lashed out after discovering they’d been excluded from the invite list.
“Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Rep. Cedric Richmond met with several civil rights groups yesterday,” Black Lives Matter tweeted on Dec. 9. “@blklivesmatter—as the largest social and justice movement in history—was not invited.”
The group credited themselves for having “brought the Biden Harris victory home,” and said they “deserve a seat at the table.”
BLM has been demanding a meeting with Biden and his team ever since the election.
“In short, black people won this election,” BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors wrote in a Nov. 7 letter to Biden. “Without the resounding support of black people, we would be saddled with a very different electoral outcome.”
“We want something for our vote,” Cullors added. “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.”
Garza, who has ignored recommendations from Biden and former President Barak Obama to back off on demands to defund the police, ended up landing a seat at the meeting with Adeyemo and Yellen.
“This [defund the police] movement, which really helped to push [Biden’s] campaign over the finish line, was used as a political football all throughout this election cycle and that was true in 2016 as well,” Garza told Politico in a recent interview.
“There’s a lot of valuable airspace that was used to be condescending to the very people who have opened the imagination of what this country can be — and how we can get closer to the promise that this country has offered to so many,” she said.
During the meeting on Monday, according to the Biden-Harris transition team, Yellen and Adeyemo “reaffirmed their commitment to placing racial equity at the center of economic recovery, focusing on the households, businesses and communities hardest hit by the pandemic, and to pursuing economic policies that address the long-term, systemic and structural issues that have led to the racial wealth gap and economic disparities that exist today,” FOX News reported.
They also discussed how to help communities of color recover from the impact of the pandemic.
“The conversation was positive, and covered a range of topics, including the powers that the Treasury has to help hard-struck communities, especially communities of color, recover equitably from the pandemic and the recession; and longer-term ways to improve racialized wealth disparities in the United States,” Roosevelt Institute President Felicia Wong told FOX News.
During Biden and Harris’ nearly two-hour meeting with the leaders of seven civil rights groups earlier this month, the leaders pushed Biden to commit to enacting a plethora of executive orders if he becomes President, according to The Intercept.
The groups laid out their expectations with regards to police and criminal justice reform, judges, Biden’s proposed cabinet, voting rights, and racial justice, Politico reported.
They also told Biden he needs to appoint a black attorney general with a background in civil rights, among other recommendations.
The civil rights leaders said Biden should make every effort to appoint black people to as many positions as possible.
“You cannot move the needle when it comes to racial justice in this country unless you have people at the table, at the highest levels, who have had the lived experiences, and, yes, the professional qualifications, to be able to impact public policy,” National Urban League CEO Marc Morial told Biden, according to Politico. “In today’s America, there are Black people qualified for every single position in the government.”
Cullors has informed Biden and Harris in the past that she expects to be included on their transition team in a policy role, the New York Post reported.
Cullors is a self-described “trained Marxist” who has claimed to be a protégé of Eric Mann, former agitator of the domestic terrorism group Weather Underground.
In October, she signed a wide-ranging, multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Television Group in order to have her develop and produce a plethora of programming in order to give more attention to “black voices.”
Cullors, who is credited with having coined the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, co-founded the group seven years ago.
They have raised millions of dollars in donations for “Black Lives Matter,” an organization which does not legally exist.
Donations are collected by a third-party nonprofit organization and then “gifted” to Black Lives Matter leaders with no accountability or transparency for how the money is used.