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

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 “their 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.”

The senator noted he does believe the Democrats on the committee support defunding police, but said they need to address the issue head on. 

“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 said.  

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.”

The Hill has reached out to ActBlue for comment. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, told Tillis he has never been called to a meeting of ActBlue nor 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, 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 candidates withdrawing 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 Flloyd 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 $37 billion in the annual budget to go towards supporting law enforcement and for 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.