California: Philanthropic Groups Sign Letter In Response To Police Violence

The following statement was released by the California Black Freedom Fund regarding the killing of Tyre Nichols

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The following statement was released by the California Black Freedom Fund regarding the killing of Tyre Nichols by five Black Memphis police officers, and are issuing a “call to action for everyone concerned with the brutalization of Black people and Black communities.”

We, the undersigned, lead philanthropic institutions throughout California that came together to seed and establish the California Black Freedom Fund. Established just two and a half years ago following the brutal murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others, the California Black Freedom Fund was created to mobilize the resources necessary to build Black power and eradicate systemic and institutional racism.

We all remember the 2020 protests that gave voice to the collective outrage, frustration, and grief in Black communities and in communities across the country. Mainstream institutions, including the media, business, sports, and entertainment sectors, finally acknowledged the harms of racism and police violence. America recognized that the problem lies not within Black communities, but within structures that institutionalize and perpetuate racial violence and inequity.

Now, just days into 2023, we are grappling with similar situations. On January 3, in Los Angeles, Keenan Anderson was killed by a taser an officer deployed while Keenan was lying face-down on his stomach – one of three police killings in LA in one week. Takar Smith and Oscar Sanchez also lost their lives to police violence. On January 7, in Memphis, Tennessee, Tyre Nichols was brutally beaten and killed by five officers during a traffic stop. Nationally, police killed at least 1,176 people in 2022 – about 100 a month – making last year the deadliest year on record for police violence since killings began being tracked.

While the nation is grieving, some are making statements telling Black people how to express their outrage. That’s not the focus of our letter. Our letter is a call to action for everyone concerned with the brutalization of Black people and Black communities. Our letter is a call to action for those who might dare to dream of a world where police violence is a mere figment of our past – a distant object in the rearview mirror of our nation’s history. Our letter is a call to action for those who desire to transform moments of despair at injustice into a sustained movement to dismantle systemic racism and racial inequities.

Historically, philanthropy has responded to flashpoints of police violence and mass mobilizations with an uptick in temporary funding directed toward Black communities, and more broadly, communities of color. These surges in funding often are short-term, tactical or narrowly focused. Then, when the urgency of the moment recedes, new momentum to build lasting, organized power in Black communities is lost, and resources to build multiracial coalitions disappear.

This time, we must keep the momentum. We call on private, corporate and community foundations to invest in Black-led movement organizations pushing back against systemic barriers and expanding access to opportunity. In addition, we need a groundswell of investments from everyday people, high-net worth donors, and companies.

As supporters of the California Black Freedom Fund, we are committed to organizing philanthropy on behalf of Black communities – now and for the long haul. As funders from foundations of all kinds, we know our capital makes a difference in the arc of social movements. Investing in the community organizations that work to advance racial justice is the best bet we can make to bring about the more just future we seek. California Black Freedom Fund’s grant partners focused on police violence and reform include Los Angeles Community Action Network, Anti Police-Terror Project, Black Organizing Project, Students Deserve, Love Not Blood Campaign, Live Free California and California Black Power Network. It is critical that we invest at the scale that will allow these organizations to win.

Anti-Blackness and structural racism are real, and silence and inaction are complicity. Winning Black liberation and systemic change requires what Angela Glover Blackwell defines as transformative solidarity and, as Pastor Michael McBride encourages, the use of our body, the ballot, and the buck. To stop police murder, we must protest, we must invest, and we must vote and actively engage in the transformation of systems that produce all forms and manner of inequity.

Together, we can help deepen the impact of Black power-building organizations to ensure that Black communities attain decision-making power over the policies, systems, and opportunities that shape their lives. That is how we can make justice real in California and across the country. Join us.

Ray Colmenar


Akonadi Foundation

Debbie I. Chang, MPH

President and CEO

Blue Shield of California

Dr. Robert K. Ross

President and CEO

The California Endowment

Antonia Hernández

President and CEO

California Community Foundation

Richard Tate

Executive Vice President

The California Wellness Foundation

Brandi Howard

President and CEO

East Bay Community Foundation

Cathy Cha

President and CEO

Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund

Cidra Sebastien

Fund Manager

Black Girl Freedom Fund – Grantmakers for Girls of Color

Angie Junck

Director, Human Rights

Heising-Simons Foundation

Michelle Decker

President and CEO
Inland Empire Community Foundation

Don Howard

President and CEO

The James Irvine Foundation

Allison Scott


Kapor Foundation

Shane Murphy Goldsmith

President and CEO

Liberty Hill Foundation

Patty Quillin


Meadow Fund

Connie Archbold Robinson Malloy


Panta Rhea Foundation

Tim Silard


Rosenberg Foundation

Judith Bell

Chief Impact Officer

San Francisco Foundation

Chet P. Hewitt

President and CEO

Sierra Health Foundation

Nicole Taylor

President and CEO

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Sophie Fanelli


Stuart Foundation

Glen Galaich


Stupski Foundation

Tegan Acton

Founder and President

Sunlight Giving and Solidarity Giving

Don Chen


Surdna Foundation

Sam Cobbs


Tipping Point Community

Miguel A. Santana

President and CEO

Weingart Foundation

Luis Arteaga

Chief Executive Officer

Y&H Soda Foundation

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