Retail CEOs are calling on Congress for help amid the smash-and-grab lootings that are leaving them grappling with hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost or stolen merchandise. Some of those same companies, however, supported organizations last year that have called to defund or overhaul policing in the United States.
"Many corporate leaders jumped on the woke bandwagon and wrote big checks to organizations that still continue to advocate to defund the police. They did not think of anything beyond not being labeled a racist," Sean Pritchard, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association, told Fox News Digital Tuesday.
Nearly two dozen CEOs signed the letter to Congress asking for support as theft crimes rage, including the chiefs of Target, Nordstrom, Levi Strauss, Ulta Beauty and Home Depot.
"Leading retailers are concerned about the growing impact organized retail crime is having on the communities we proudly serve," the letter, which was sent by the Retail Industry Leaders Association to Congress last week reads, highlighting support for the INFORM Consumers Act. "This important legislation will modernize our consumer protection laws to safeguard families and communities from the sale of illicit products and we urge its quick passage."
Fox News examined public support pledged by the companies last year during nationwide protests and riots following the death of George Floyd, and found many of the companies supported left-wing groups such as Black Lives Matter, the Equal Justice Initiative and the ACLU, which advocate to defund or reform policing in the U.S.
Nordstrom stores, for example, have repeatedly grabbed the nation’s attention in recent weeks due to mobs of looters storming multiple locations in California, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and stolen merchandise. CEO Erik B. Nordstrom signed his name to the letter asking for Congressional support, but earlier this year, the company doubled down on its support for Black Lives Matter.
In a press release from January, the company announced different ways it will reaffirm "commitment to advance diversity, inclusion, belonging" during Black History Month, among them was "supporting the important work of nonprofit organizations including" the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
Black Lives Matter led the charge last year in rallying Americans to support defunding the police. Co-founder Patrisse Cullors, a self-described "trained Marxist," said that the way "we actually get real accountability and justice" is through the "demand of defunding law enforcement."
The calls set off a cascade effect of liberal cities moving millions in funds from police departments and an increase in anti-police sentiments followed by corresponding increases in police resignations and early retirements. Departments across the country are still struggling to recruit new officers.
This year, as some cities reversed course and called for more police officers amid crime spikes, police leaders are taking issue with reform advocates who are now softening their position on defunding the police and spreading "amnesia" on the anti-police sentiment of last year.
"We urge President Biden to move at warp speed to create a vaccine to address our emerging Amnesia virus that has infected politicians, organizations and individuals who are now claiming they never advocated to defund the police, they just wanted to re-imagine policing," Craig Lally, President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told Fox News Digital on Tuesday.
"That is a lie, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles literally advocated to cut the LAPD budget by over 90%, reducing the number of police officers to under 1,000 from a force of 9,700. That means 90% of the rapes, homicides, assaults, follow home and smash and grab robberies would simply not be investigated. We wonder if BLMs Melina Abdullah was going to tell these victims they simply don’t matter. We don’t have amnesia and neither will voters when it’s election time, we will make sure of it," Lally said.
Lally was referring to Los Angeles BLM leader Melina Abdullah's recent comments saying that "When we say, ‘Defund the police,’ it doesn’t mean we don’t want public safety. It means we want resources for communities."
But Black Lives Matter wasn’t alone in its calls to overhaul and change policing. Other organizations such as the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Urban League and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law advocate for reforms such as how reimagining "public safety and community health," changing "divisive policing policies" and pushing for bail reform.
These organizations also received donations and support from retail stores calling for action in combating smash-and-grab crimes.
In 2020, Target announced a $10 million commitment to "advancing social justice," including donations to the National Urban League. The organization outlines on its website that it has "21 Pillars" on "comprehensive and realistic reform and accountability," including to "collaborate with communities to re-envision public safety" and "change divisive policing policies."
While famed denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. announced last year it would donate $100,000 to its "longstanding partner, American Civil Liberties Union," following Floyd’s death.
The ACLU describes itself as "our nation's guardian of liberty." But to police leaders on the West Coast coping with the spike in retail crimes, it is the organization to blame for the rampant smash-and-grabs.
"All one has to do is log onto www.ACLU-watch.com and click a category such as ‘Sexual Offenders’, ‘Weakening Public Safety’ or ‘Dangerous Bail Reform’ to see exactly how this organization has contributed to the crime wave enveloping our nation," Mike Solan, President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, told Fox News Digital on Tuesday.
"Many in corporate America have blindly supported the ACLU, maybe not realizing the devastating impact their policies are having on our safety. I would be interested to hear why some corporations are supporting the weakening of rights of rape victims or releasing repeat offenders out on bail to harm again because that is what the ACLU has been fighting for."
California's Proposition 47, passed in 2014, has also come under severe scrutiny amid the spike in crimes because it reduced shoplifting charges regarding the theft of $950 or less from felonies to misdemeanors. Among its supporters were the ACLU and then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Home Depot also pledged $1 million to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which has taken issue with bail laws in the U.S., while Ulta Beauty announced it would donate to the Equal Justice Initiative.
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law was established in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy, and outlines under its criminal justice web page that it works "to challenge racial disparities within the criminal justice system that result from the criminalization of poverty and contribute to mass incarceration." The nonpartisan group adds that "pretrial practices that rely on ‘money bail’ and formulaic rather than individualized bail determinations" disproportionately incarcerates people of color.
The Equal Justice Initiative lays out on its website that "tough on crime" policies have led to mass incarceration "rooted in the belief that Black and brown people are inherently guilty and dangerous." The group also advocates for the reallocations of "funds from traditional policing to services that promote public safety."
EJI founder Bryan Stevenson told the New Yorker last year that historically, "police have been the face of oppression in many ways" and said - just as protests and riots began forming in late May of 2020 - "we have created a culture that allows our police departments to see themselves as agents of control, and that culture has to shift."
An Ulta spokesperson told Fox News Wednesday that the company is proud of its work with EJI and its commitment to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment, among other issues.
"As a values-based company, we believe in doing what’s right. As such, we support both the INFORM Act and EJI as they stand for safety and equality, two longstanding priorities at Ulta Beauty," the statement added.
Now, as the CEOs ask for help in combating widespread crime in their stores, some in Congress are hitting back.
"Help them directly? Hell No. They should be ashamed of themselves," Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy told Fox Digital on Tuesday when asked about the companies pleading with Congress for assistance.
"The days of crony capitalism are about to come to an end. But unlike the unprincipled woke corporations bowing down to the altar of so-called ‘environmental, social, and governance’ (ESG) investment to enrich themselves, I will always fight for the rule of law, which will help everyone — including them," Roy added.
Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar also said he will not support congressional efforts to assist retailers that "backed BLM during their ‘summer of love protests’ and efforts to defund the police."
"These woke companies made their bed, now they can sleep in it," he told Fox News on Wednesday.
"This is what happens to the woke, they reap what they sow. What did they expect would happen?"
Police leaders have voiced similar sentiments, saying corporate leaders rushed to make donations in 2020 out of fear of being labeled racist and are now coping will the fallout of fewer officers and more crime.
"Unfortunately, the result of these defund efforts has these CEOs waking up to a retail theft smash and grab nightmare, rampant violence on our streets and a fear of disassociating themselves and their companies from the very individuals and organizations intent on destroying the safety of our communities," Pritchard added in his comments to Fox News.
Nordstrom and Levi Strauss did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment on the donations and support to the various groups in light of the letter last week. Target referred Fox News to the Retail Industry Leaders Association, adding that its CEO did sign onto the letter to Congress last week, but "we don’t have anything to share beyond what’s contained in the letter."
The Equal Justice Initiative, the National Urban League, Black Lives Matter and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also did not respond to requests for comment on the letter.