As calls to abolish police become mainstream following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) announced on Twitter that she, along with fellow Squad Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), raised $128,000 for a Black Lives Matter group with the goal of abolishing the police.
In late May, Ocasio-Cortez announced that she and the rest of the Squad raised $128,000 to be split between Black Visions Collective and Reclaim The Block.
Reclaim The Block is a Minneapolis group with the goal of petitioning City Council to “move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget.” The group is currently requesting those who would like to donate to it instead donate to other organizations.
Black Visions Collective, also based in Minneapolis, was described in 2018 as “an expansion” of the Black Lives Matter movement directed at “abolishing police, prisons, and cash money bail.”
“Thank you ALL for showing up. This will change lives,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez when sharing the news on Twitter.
Thank you ALL for showing up. This will change lives. And I am thankful every damn day for sisterhood. https://t.co/3A53h4zTs4
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 30, 2020
The fund was apparently first announced by Omar, who represents the state where the Black Visions Collective resides.
According to City Pages, fellow Somali immigrant to the United States, one of the group’s organizers, Ahni Ali “was three months old when her parents brought her to the United States from Somalia,” and was raised “surrounded by white people.”
Due to her surroundings growing up in Portland, Maine, Ali apparently “found it difficult to belong anywhere until she got involved in the Movement for Black Lives and, later, the Black Visions Collective.”
Another organizer, Miski Noor, uses they/them pronouns and used to work as a pharmacist.
While it is unclear if the two organizers are also the group’s founders, Black Visions Collective was founded in December of 2017. Ali and Noor have been quoted by media speaking on behalf of the organization repeatedly.
The group successfully obstructed a gay pride parade in Minneapolis, staging a protest during the parade to draw attention to police shootings, apparently upset that the LGBTQ community was not further engaging in their protests.
After obstructing the Pride parade, Ali went on to complain about liberalism in the United States:
Hence the protest. Protesters wanted to get attendees’ attention: “We’re here, we’re part of your community, and as long as the police are welcome here, we don’t feel safe.” The community responded mostly with impatience that their parade wasn’t starting on time.
“Liberalism, at the end of the day, is hurting us,” Ali says. “We’re not working as a community that thinks that we all deserve liberation… and that’s why we’re losing so bad right now.”
The organization was also responsible for a series of different protests during the Super Bowl in 2018 that ultimately culminated in shutting down the Minneapolis transit system on game day, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “You can’t play with black lives!”
Participating in the protest and speaking on behalf of Black Visions Collective, described then as “the Minneapolis chapter of the Black Lives Matter Global Network,” Noor claimed that the protests were meant to call attention “to the many ways the Super Bowl negatively impacts communities of color.”
“From banning our use of public transit to the presence of ICE, to gentrification invading our neighborhoods, Super Bowl LII illustrates the disconnect between American ideals and our lived reality,” Noor continued. “Our actions this past week highlighted the threat of visibility, criminalization, and incarceration against communities of color. We stood up to our city and the NFL’s destruction of Black, brown and poor communities and let it be known the we are here to stay, and demand to be heard.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) referenced similar findings while the United States House debated potential police reform following President Donald Trump’s executive order.
“Now they have jumped the shark on policing, this is no longer about policing, this is precisely about what the Black Visions Minnesota group attempted to accomplish,” said Gaetz. “Defund the police, defund border patrol, eliminate borders altogether, get rid of the military, and get rid of the United States of America.”
When members of Congress began laughing at Gaetz’s claims, he pointed out that members of Congress are currently in the process of raising money for the Black Visions Collective.
Members of the Democratic caucus are raising money for an organization that wants to destroy the United States of America.
That's the Democrats' vision for our country. pic.twitter.com/UosbBonQyr
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) June 18, 2020
“It’s what your colleagues raise money for, Mr. Chairman,” said Gaetz. “Members of the Democratic caucus are raising money for an organization that wants to destroy the United States of America, they want to dismantle the state.”
“We want to get rid of the elements of policing that hurt people, we want more training, the president has taken leadership on chokeholds, I worked with you on no knock warrants,” said Gaetz. “You’d rather sit here and smear us, smear our families, smear our motives, than actually legislate. But you know what? More Americans will die because you’re not actually willing to engage in the legislative process and help us, and that time will be on your hands.”
Gaetz provides a dossier of tweets written by Ocasio-Cortez, Black Visions, and various Black Lives Matter groups that seem to be based in Minneapolis revealing that the organization is still actively pushing for the abolition of police.