On Thursday, President Joe Biden spoke on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, warning against the U.S. becoming a nation that “accepts political violence as a norm.” However, just months before the events of Jan. 6, 2021, Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris had promoted a bail fund that helped to release suspects charged with violent crimes during riots in the summer of 2020.
In June 2020, days after George Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis Police Custody, then-Senator Kamala Harris called on supporters to donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF). MFF raises money to help post bail.
“If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota,” Harris tweeted at the time.
By the time Harris chose to promote the bail fund, riots had already taken place for days in Minneapolis. On May 28, rioters set fire to a Minneapolis Police precinct and burned and looted other nearby businesses.
The riots following Floyd’s death also spread from the Minneapolis area to cities throughout the country in the days before Harris’ tweet. On May 31, 2020, the day before Harris’ tweet promoting the bail fund, then-President Donald Trump was rushed to the White House bunker as rioters crowded around the executive mansion and threw bricks, rocks, bottles and fireworks at U.S. Secret Service agents. More than 60 Secret Service agents were injured by rioters during that incident.
Increasingly anti-police riots continued throughout the summer of 2020. A federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon was under near-nightly attack for weeks, with rioters throwing bricks, rocks, fireworks and incendiary Molotov cocktails at federal officers. Several federal officers in Portland, Oregon also risked the potential of being permanently blinded as lasers were flashed in their eyes.
In Seattle, Washington, an under-construction youth detention center was set on fire.
In Georgia, rioters attacked an immigration court and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, smashed windows, set barricades on fire and threw fireworks at the building.
On Thursday, both Biden and Harris spoke on the events of Jan. 6, 2021. On That day, as then-President Donald Trump rallied supporters in Washington D.C. and raise disputes about the results of the 2020 election, some demonstrators marched to the U.S. Capitol. While some gathered on the steps outside the building and others appeared to be let in by Capitol Police, others smashed windows and fought their way into the building, injuring police and disrupting a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 election results for Biden.
In his remarks, Biden said, “Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people? Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of truth but in the shadow of lies? We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation.”
In her own remarks, Harris said, “On January 6th, we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dismantle our democracy are successful. The lawlessness, the violence, the chaos.”
Responding to Biden’s remarks, Real Clear Investigations writer Mark Hemingway tweeted, “Political violence had been so normalized that only a few months before this, Biden’s own VP was encouraging people to donate to bail funds for violent rioters.”
While MFF’s bail fund is specific to Minnesota, Harris chose to promote the bail fund amid a spike in riots against police and the criminal justice system during the late spring and summer of 2020. According to Fox 9 in Minnesota, MFF received about $35 million in donations in the wake of Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests and riots.
As the Washington Post reported, the MFF bail fund posted bail for several criminal suspects in Minneapolis during riots in the Summer of 2020. Jaleel Stallings was one suspect who was charged with multiple counts of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon after he fired a handgun at police as they attempted to disperse rioters on May 30, 2020. MPR News reported Stallings was acquitted of the charges in September of this year after arguing in court that he fired in self-defense after he said he was struck by a rubber bullet fired by police.
MFF also posted bail for Chylen Evans, a woman charged with looting a liquor store, clothing store and mobile store during rioting on May 29, 2020.
The New York Post reported George Howard was another criminal suspect bailed out by the bail fund Harris promoted. Howard was bailed out in August of this year. He was jailed on Aug. 5 for domestic assault, but released on Aug. 11 after MFF posted his bail. Howard had already been barred from possessing a firearm, due to prior convictions, but on Aug. 29, just weeks after MFF posted his bail, he was arrested and charged in the road rage shooting murder of Luis Damian Martinez Ortiz, 38 on I-94 in Minneapolis.