New York City has agreedto pay $21,500 to each of the hundreds of protestors who complained about police, well, doing their jobs by using riot control measures in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx during the George Floyd riots of 2020. A judge approved a historic settlement expected to reach up to $6 million. It happened on the heels of the city of Philadelphia agreeing to pay $9.25 million to Floyd protestors also alleging police abuse. These cases have created a model for people involved in unrest to extract money from cities, essentially socializing the cost of rioting.
The Bronx demonstration in question was organized by FTP (“Fuck the Police”), a left-wing group related to Decolonize This Place (DTP), which attacked subways in 2020. The group destroyed turnstiles and spray-painted “Fuck Cops” on station walls. The assault on the city’s transit system ended with 13 arrests and $100,000 in damage.
Both FTP and DTP promoted the Mott Haven protest on social media with invites displaying a burning NYPD cruiser, promising a confrontation with cops. Armed with that information, police sprang into action and successfully rounded them up. But no good deed goes unpunished, and taxpayers are typically the ones to pay the penalty.
A few million dollars is a shakedown. But it is also a small drop in a bigger bucket. Contributions and pledges to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and related causes from 2020 to the present from corporations and organizations based in New York exceed $46 billion, according to a database that tracks these funds created by the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life. The database shows companies contributed or pledged more than $99 billion to the BLM movement and related causes. That figure translates into a transfer of wealth from shareholders, pensioners, and productive people to a class of professional agitators and race hustlers. It’s also a kind of tithing paid to the church of anti-racism, a rite for the new gods of diversity, equity, and inclusion that are presiding over the new age.
To be sure, $99 billion is a conservative estimate. McKinsey & Company figures the amount is much greater than that. The consulting firm analyzed financial and nonfinancial commitments made by companies on the Fortune 1000 list. This data is hard to come by, partly because there is so much and partly because it must be pieced together bit by bit. Here is McKinsey’s methodology:
We conducted a press search to identify the financial and nonfinancial commitments made by the companies on the Fortune 1000 list. The press search resulted in press releases and public statements from companies on the list, which were examined for evidence of a financial or nonfinancial commitment to racial equity, specifically for Black Americans after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
McKinsey concluded that companies pledged about $340 billion between May 2020 and October 2022, “$141 billion of which has come in the last year, between May 2021 and October 2022.” That is an enormous amount of money for a movement that fashions itself the cause of the underdog.
McKinsey does not, however, have the kind of database developed by the folks at Claremont. It provides a more granular glimpse of how much and who gave or promised to give in the name of racial justice. There is so much money involved that it is easiest to look at snapshots of the problem, focusing on individual locales to help illustrate the broader picture. An elephant, after all, can only be consumed one bite at a time.
For New York-based entities, JP Morgan Chase pledged $30 billion alone in October 2020. Goldman Sachs committed more than $10 billion. Citigroup promised over a billion and published a study claiming racism—so expansively defined as to include virtually every real and imagined injustice—cost America $16 trillion. At that moment, people almost forgot Citigroup’s history of scandal, including being forced to pay $700 million to consumers harmed by the company’s illegal practices related to credit card products and services.
There are few drivers of real poverty and inequality so serious as crime, and, in practice, these and many other New York-based organizations sided with the people who rioted in the streets and looted small businesses. Indeed, around the time these pledges were being registered, hundreds of looters and rioters were released by NYPD—charges dropped. “I was in total shock that everything is being brushed off to the side,” Jessica Betancourt told NBC News after her Bronx eyeglass shop was looted by those merely demanding justice and perhaps a Rolex.
New York provides a snapshot, but none of this was unique to The Big Apple. An analysis by The Guardian of citations and charges against Floyd protesters found that in “most of a dozen jurisdictions examined, at least 90% of cases were dropped or dismissed. In some cities, like Dallas and Philadelphia, as many as 95% of citations were dropped or not prosecuted.”
Back in Betancourt’s neck of the woods in the Bronx, where FTP and DTP agitators had threatened to battle with cops, more than 60 percent of arrestees had their charges dropped.
Fast forward to this year, and NYPD statistics from January show that, compared to the same period in 2022, rapes are up nearly 16 percent, and robberies and burglaries, respectively, rose 9.4 percent and 5.5 percent. By April, compared to the same period last year, felony assaults rose roughly 8 percent, and auto thefts increased around 11 percent. In the face of this, the common refrain has been that crime is way down—from the highs of the early 1990s. A cold comfort.
Corporate support for BLM and adjacent causes directly impacts public safety in a way that contributes to violent crime rates. Just look at Propel Capital, a venture capital firm based in Brooklyn. Open Secrets data show that in the 2021-2022 election cycle, Propel gave at least $150,000 to Color of Change, a PAC that bills itself as “the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.” Color of Change was instrumental in electing Alvin Bragg Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney who dragged former President Donald Trump to court and, more importantly, made New Yorkers less safe.
A report by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that under Bragg, murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny auto surged by 26 percent—the highest since 2006. The center also found the number of felony cases Bragg declined to prosecute increased by 35 percent in 2022 compared to 2019, while misdemeanor prosecutions resulting in jail sentences declined by 78 percent.
The message sent in 2020 was that some criminal activity stands a good chance of not only going unpunished but also being rewarded. The implications extend to society at large because it suggests that we have lost the will to maintain the rule of law. Beyond New York and Philadelphia, similar lawsuits and settlements by Floyd protestors alleging police brutality have taken place in Washington, Cleveland, and, of course, Minnesota. A “historic” settlement was announced between the American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. and the Justice Department over the demonstrations that occurred near the White House in Lafayette Square, where St. John’s Episcopal Church was set on fire.
The flames that swept through our cities may have subsided, but the individuals and the institutions that fanned them haven’t gone away. Instead, they’ve become institutionalized, intimately connected with powerful organizations, corporations, and financial institutions. And the average American is, in one way or another, footing the bill.