A task force on criminal justice reform, charged with shaping Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s public policy agenda and intended to guide the Party’s 2020 platform, is composed of extremist members with radical views directly tied to organizations that believe America is an inherently racist country that must be fought through a radical transformation.
“Weaponized whiteness” poses an existential threat to people of color in the U.S.; police departments must undergo radical change to “better serve a race of people historically oppressed by it;” and “anything less than a radical transformation” of the U.S. is unacceptable. These are just some of the views promoted by members tasked with shaping the Democratic Party reforms of the justice system, should the party gain power in the upcoming 2020 elections.
Chiraag Bains is co-chair of the criminal justice reform task force that is guiding Biden’s policies vis-à-vis overhauling the justice system.
He is currently the director of legal strategies at the far-left George Soros-funded Demos think tank, which is currently working closely with radical activist organizations such as the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) to support “the critical and increasingly dangerous” work of protesting and organizing and stands in solidarity with the group’s demands and their declaration that anything less than a “radical transformation” of the U.S. is unacceptable.
Breitbart News previously reported that M4BL seeks a revolution to topple the U.S. capitalist system and its replacement with a socialist-style government replete with universal income, collective ownership, and the redistribution of wealth.
In the past, Bains worked at the Soros-funded Vera Institute of Justice, where he helped co-write a report titled: “Confronting Confinement: A Report of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons,” which criticized the conditions of confinement at supermax prisons which house some of the most dangerous criminals.
As an undergraduate, Bains also interned at the liberal Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law where he contributed as a researcher for a guide report titled, “50-State Report on Re-Enfranchisement – A Guide to Restoring Your Right to Vote – A Resource for Individuals with Felony Convictions and Advocates who Work with Disenfranchised Communities,” which aimed to assist convicted felons with gaining the right to vote.
Up until 2017, Bains worked at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice under Eric Holder, who is a member of the criminal justice reform task force.
Former Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson called the Justice Department report an “invention.” Barry Latzer, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at John Jay College, wrote a lengthy piece titled, “Holder’s Hatchet Job,” detailing the politized process that led to the report.
When former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said at a CNN town hall that he was not in favor of granting voting rights to the Boston Marathon bomber or sexual assault convicts, Baines tweeted that he was deeply disappointed.
“Felony disenfranchisement has its roots in racist attempts to sap black political power. It does nothing to make us safer. Voting would help with reentry. And prison conditions might not be so terrible if those inside had a voice,” he wrote.
In 2018, Bains, as a Leadership in Government fellow at the Open Society Foundations and senior fellow at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program, wrote a lengthy treatise titled, “A Few Bad Apples: How the Narrative of Isolated Misconduct Distorts Civil Rights Doctrine.”
In it, he argues that police misconduct should be viewed as part of systemic racism and not as isolated incidents.
The narrative applies with respect to race, as well, although it comes in different forms: the ideal of color blindness, the notion that we are living in a nearly post-racial society, the feeling that we would finally get past our racial history if we’d simply stop obsessing about it. After all, we hear, slavery ended 150 years ago, whites and blacks drink from the same water fountains, and the voters twice elected a black president. In this worldview, racial discrimination is cabined to the deplorable acts of a few retrograde individuals.
Recently, the activist lawyer was involved in litigation to grant over one million ex-felons in Florida the ability to vote without having to fully repay any outstanding court fines and fees as a result of prior convictions.
In a recent blog post for Demos, Bains argues that disenfranchisement laws have been deployed against people of color to imprison would-be voters and keep political power concentrated in the hands of white men.
Demos, he states, is working to change all that through moves such as filing litigation and defending the voting rights of jailed detainees.
The radical ideas espoused by Bains are making their way to the potentially highest levels of office.
Bains recently told NPR that it is encouraging to know that Biden is “getting specific and trying to meet the moment, but it’s not enough…” Rather, he says a specific and bold agenda is needed.
Bains wants Biden to expand on already announced proposals on ending mandatory minimum prison sentences and ramping up the use of clemency.
He’s also pushing for the restoration of federal parole and the legalization of marijuana, among other policies.
Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker is another member of the criminal justice task force who espouses radical views.
While leading a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest a few days ago in Iowa, Walker declared that participants were now part of a movement which, in essence, proclaims to the world that black lives matter.
When speaking to members of Black Lives Matter Iowa last week in a broadcast streamed on Facebook and YouTube, Walker said: “We are going to have to rethink how we approach public safety, which means meaningful investment in communities of color and rethinking how we fund our current law enforcement.”
Which was echoed again the next day when he wrote that police departments should be radically changed to “better serve a race of people historically oppressed by it.”
Talking to NPR, Walker said he supports defunding police, though he acknowledged that such ideas may result in “a marketing and branding issue” when selling the idea to less progressive individuals.
Walker also referred to ICE activity as abominable in a tweet two weeks ago.
In addition, Walker said that the Black Lives Matter protests are a global response to four centuries of systemic oppression that has “plagued black Americans since they first arrived on the shores of this country.”
Walker called the worldwide protests against police violence and racism “a global liberation movement” that could open the door for massive policy changes.
He also stated that he believes the former vice president is on board with such changes. “The policies that he [Biden] is supporting certainly is a step in the right direction and it’s going to help move the dialogue along on the issues we seek to address,” he said.
In a statement to Reuters, Walker spoke of the current recognition of “centuries of systemic oppression and white supremacy” as well as the failure of the criminal justice system, as a new political opportunity for sweeping reform.
In an op-ed penned on June 12 titled, “No committees. No task forces. Just action,” Walker speaks of a global liberation movement that has developed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, which he claims is demanding change and reparations for “the catastrophic harm vis-à-vis very intentional systemic oppression that has shaped the Black experience since the first slaves arrived on the shores of North America.”
Imploring policymakers at all levels to take bold action, Walker discourages involving institutional actors in reforms at the level of ideation and encourages negotiating directly with the young leaders of ASJ (Advocates for Social Justice, who prioritize the objectives of the BLM movement) in appointing members of task forces.
Recalling the petitioning of the U.N. to investigate the U.S. for crimes against humanity for its treatment of American Negroes by the radical, racist Malcolm X, Walker claims that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was only ever possible if Malcolm’s was realized first.
Walker then goes on to portray Black Americans as facing a crisis of survival in the face of racism, police brutality, and systemic oppression which requires “drastic measures” to combat.
Noting how the momentum sweeping the country has allowed municipal governments to take extraordinary actions and resulted in speedily-crafted policy, Walker proposes politicians fight for sweeping change now.
“This point in time could be the single most important moment for the fight for human rights in the history of the Black race,” he concludes.
In another op-ed written for the Gazette on June 9 titled, “Educating Black students in Iowa about their history,” Walker deems the current outrage over George Floyd’s death “an eruption of raw emotion stemming from generations of systemic oppression” and “a reckoning of Black pain, an indictment of white privilege.”
In his calls for liberation from systemic oppression, he states that racism has underwritten the great American project and that the U.S. regularly demonstrates cruel disregard for black Americans.
Calling Black Lives Matter “a call to the fire department for help,” Walker encourages individuals and leaders to “declare a war” on systemic oppression, right the wrongs of the past and commit to reform and reconciliation, with success dependent on how hard the war is fought.
Walker’s tweets in recent days echo his radical ideas, such as: “Weaponized whiteness poses an existential threat to people of color in this country;” and: “Donald Trump is prepared to kill American citizens. His presidency is a national emergency and one of the most dangerous threats this country has ever faced.”
Formation of the task force played a large role in Bernie Sanders’ formal endorsement of Biden shortly after he exited the 2020 Democratic primary, as Sanders sought guarantees that his progressive vision would have a tangible impact on policy in a Biden administration, Vox reported.
The task forces’ missions are to publicly recommend the policy positions that Biden should run on, to guide the writing of the party platform, and to inform the transition should Biden win the election, writes Michael Tomasky.
Some of the members of these task forces may also fill important slots in a Biden administration.
A joint statement from the two campaigns released last month noted that in the best interests of both parties and the effort to defeat Trump in November, an agreement that ensures representation of Sanders supporters and delegate candidates, both on the floor and in committees, is necessary.
Sanders commended Biden for working together with his campaign to assemble activists to unify the party “in a transformational and progressive direction.”
In a statement on the task force, Biden stated that a united party is crucial to defeating Trump and moving the country forward.
“The work of the task forces will be essential to identifying ways to build on our progress” he said, adding that they would transform the country.
In a news release, the Biden campaign said the task forces will meet in advance of the Democratic National Convention to make recommendations to the DNC Platform Committee and to Biden directly. “I’m committed to seeing that these good ideas, wherever I can find them on every issue, are brought into the campaign,” Biden said.
The coalition of progressive groups who had previously written the letter to Biden called the appointments a “major win for youth organizations that are building political power for young people across the country.”
In a letter signed by 50 leading national progressive groups (including the Dream Defenders, BYP100, and Black Voters Matter) representing millions of active members across the country, Biden is pressured to immediately incorporate the radical policies, including putting forward a transformative and comprehensive policing and criminal justice reform, laid out by the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL).
Citing his “moral responsibility in this moment” to make amends for past harms he had caused, the groups demanded that Biden make commitments such as advance reparations and defund police, prisons, and weaponry in order to fully fund healthcare, housing, education, and environmental justice.
“We ask that you revise your platform to ensure that the federal government permanently ends and ceases any further appropriation of funding to local law enforcement in any form and redirect those and additional resources towards much needed community-led and community-controlled public safety efforts,” it reads.
With radical groups (such as M4BL) and individuals (such as Walker and Bains) influencing the task forces which are intended to guide Biden’s administration, their radical agenda is becoming more and more mainstream.
Longtime Sanders strategist Jeff Weaver, who set up the pro-Biden PAC to help sway Sanders voters (especially Latinos, young voters, and progressives), told the Los Angeles Times that the pitch will be that voting for Biden is the only way to build on Sanders’ success in pushing the party to the left.
“We now have an opportunity to lock in some of those gains,” Weaver said.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.