Tillis calls on Democrats to condemn campaign group’s anti-police message

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) listens during Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on Tuesday called on his Democratic colleagues to speak out against an anti-police campaign by a major left-leaning fundraising group.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on law enforcement safety, Tillis pointed to the 13.12 Run For Justice campaign from ActBlue, a fundraising platform for liberal and progressive candidates.

According to the campaign page, 1312 refers to the letters ACAB, or “All Cops Are Bastards,” and encourages people to run 13.12 miles and donate money for every mile run to Black Lives Matter in support of its “mission of dismantling white supremacy and funding the police.”

“They didn’t say some of them. They didn’t say most of them. They said all of them,” Tillis said. “And so we have to recognize this is a cancer. This has to stop.”

“Somebody that knows ActBlue needs to know this is not helpful, and for the Democrats who genuinely believe this is not a good strategy, they have to stand up and stand against this,” Tillis added.  

A spokesperson for ActBlue declined to comment on Tillis’ remarks, directing The Hill to a description of the organization on its website.

“Each group raises its own contributions and only uses ActBlue to process and receive them,” ActBlue explains on its website. “We do not send emails or texts or fundraise on their behalf.”

The ActBlue page for the 1312 campaign says 23 individuals have raised more than $1,000 toward a $1,312 goal, with contributions going to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.

“Demand justice for #GeorgeFloyd and #BreonnaTaylor and the countless others murdered by cops,” it says. “Demand that our tax dollars stop funding police brutality and systemic racism.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, told Tillis he has never been called to a meeting of ActBlue or asked to approve their agenda or messaging.

“I shouldn’t be held any more responsible for what ActBlue does than ask our Republican members to be held responsible for the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers or any other group that might associate themselves with conservatives,” Durbin told Tillis.

“I want to hold members accountable for how they vote and what they believe, but to attribute other organizations to us is unfair,” Durbin said.

Durbin suggested he could bring up Jan. 6, 2021, leading Tillis to interrupt and say, “And every single one of them should be in jail.”

Sgt. Demetrick Pennie, the president and executive director of the National Fallen Officer Foundation, testified that calls to defund the police “proliferated” on social media in 2020 and led to resignations, retirements and candidate withdrawals from police academies. 

Officers who remained, Pennie said, had to pull extra shifts to make up for short staffing and therefore experienced more mental health issues, which increased suicide rates. 

“The defund the police movement has done more damage than anyone can imagine,” Pennie said. 

Tillis also claimed anti-police messaging was “killing people” and making at-risk communities less safe. 

“It is time for a change, and it’s time to stop this crap,” he said. 

Democrats have been deeply divided over police funding in the wake of the racial justice protests and riots that spread across the country following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. 

Moderate Democrats said support for “defunding” the police from some in the party alienated voters, as many progressives pushed to shift funding from traditional policing to social programs and mental health responders. 

President Biden has rejected calls to defund the police and promised to increase support for law enforcement. 

The president will request that $37 billion in the annual budget go toward supporting law enforcement and crime prevention, the White House announced last week, partly in response to recent gun violence. 

“He wanted to seize the momentum. Seize the moment in order to drive further,” officials said.

Updated: 1:48 p.m.

Tags ActBlue Black Lives Matter defund the police Dick Durbin Dick Durbin thom tillis Thom Tillis

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