The Link Between Cleveland's "Tragedy Pimps" and Loudoun County's School Board Chaos

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

They may not seem directly related, but when Cleveland’s Mayor Frank Jackson calls out the “tragedy pimps” working to pass Issue 24 (which we covered last week), there’s more than a passing connection to the chaos at the school board meetings in Loudoun County, which got even more disturbing as allegations of rape and cover-ups broke yesterday (we wrote about it here). And that connection has everything to do with activism and efforts to keep police from doing their jobs without being harangued by citizen-led social justice groups.

In last week’s piece detailing what’s happening with Issue 24 in Cleveland, we revealed that a huge part of the funding to get Issue 24 on the ballot there — a change to the city charter that would give citizens the lead on “everything from disciplinary oversight to recruiting and training” with regard to police — was coming from a DC-based activist group called The Fairness Project, which Influence Watch links to labor Union SEIU.

In a subsequent interview with Outlaws Radio, Cleveland’s Mayor Frank Jackson calls that kind of activism the work of “tragedy pimps.”

So how does that relate to what’s going on Loudoun County, Va.? Well I personally know of a few reporters already examining the funding and political associations behind some of the groups pushing the National School Board Association (NSBA) in their endeavors there, such as a recent letter to the Biden administration that led to the DOJ’s strange assertions about parents and implications of domestic terrorism. I won’t scoop those reporters while they’re working on their stories, but I’ll share them when they’re done. (By the way, Parents Defending Education has done some great work contacting state representatives of the NSBA who say they were never contacted before that letter was drafted and sent.)

And it will be interesting to see if there’s some funding overlap because one somewhat-overlooked nugget in the Loudoun County chaos via this amazing piece from The Daily Wire is a similar effort to make police in Loudoun County answerable to a civic group, just as Issue 24 does in Cleveland.

When citizens collected enough signatures to begin a court process recalling Barts, partly for her activities in the Anti-Racist Parents Facebook group, it would fall, under the vagaries of Virginia law, to Biberaj to prosecute the recall. Biberaj did not recuse herself, even though she was part of that group and promoted a letter to the editor that mocked the recall effort and those opposed to transgender policies. A judge ultimately had to intervene to disqualify her.

There was one relief valve: the sheriff, which is an elected position for which voters chose Mike Chapman, a Republican. In response, the Democrat-controlled board of supervisors pushed for stripping the duties of the sheriff’s office and creating a police force that would report to them instead.

Back in 2018, I wrote a piece about what this kind of social justice, citizen-led police oversight did to the city of Seattle, arguably a trial balloon for progressives interested in this kind of “civic order.” It wasn’t pretty.

According to COMPAS President Mike Solan, an officer himself, Seattle may be facing some serious unintended public safety consequences because of the actions of a similar citizen-led panel called the Community Police Commission, that has recently become guided by a few powerful members with a dramatic social justice agenda.

While the Community Police Commission has some members who are “just trying to do good work,” Solan says, there is a power-base on the Commission that has been successful in working with a group called De-Escalate Washington (who received money from George Soros’ Open Society among other social justice groups, Solan says) in getting I-940 passed in 2017, a ballot initiative that redefined “deadly use of force” in the state because they argued officers were impossible to prosecute in deadly force situations.

“They deceptively crafted their message,” Solan says. “They bamboozled signers to this petition [by convincing them] that law enforcement officers needed more training around use of force. But buried deep in the language was a change in the language of what ‘use of force’ means. Typically the burden of proof in an inquest into a deadly use of force situation is on the prosecutor. I-940 puts the burden on the officer to justify their actions. They captured the narrative circulating around the country that it was impossible to prosecute officers, and cited a number of police shootings in Seattle to make the case despite the fact that the majority of those were ruled justifiable.”

It’s great to hear Democrats like Mayor Jackson stand up to the more radical week of the left on the issue of neutering police in cities where police not only provide a valuable public safety service but offer employment to people looking to advance in life. But if the progressive left keeps trying to sneak the issue of community police oversight into issues as seemingly disconnected as school board members, rational and sane Democrats are going to need to take Jackson’s lead and use their voices in protest lest they watch crime stats grow.