A recent report has revealed the fossil fuel industries, utilities and banks have extensive ties to police groups. Police organizations in big cities like Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City have all received funding from oil giants including Chevron, Marathon and Shell. Funds are diverted to and through these groups without public input or oversight. Some of this money is used to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology. Fossil fuel companies even have senior staff serving as directors of some police foundations.
The information is from a report by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government and its research database project called LittleSis. The research was conducted by Gin Armstrong and Derek Seidman and published on July 27, 2020. Their investigation found that fossil fuel companies, utilities and financial institutions have all contributed to police foundations. The list of fossil fuel companies that contribute to these foundations include some of the world’s biggest polluters, companies.
According to the report Chevron has sponsored the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation and the Houston Police Department’s Mounted Patrol. A Chevron staffer is also a board member of the Houston Police Foundation. It also donates and occupies a position on the board of the Salt Lake City Police Foundation. Chevron has been singled out for pollution especially pollution emanating from its refinery in Richmond, California.
Marathon Petroleum is listed as a “Commanding Sponsor” of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation (the city’s police foundation) and their Security Coordinator sits on the board. Marathon is the largest oil refining company in the U.S. and it is commonly cited as an emissions violator. The report singles out environmental violations at a Marathon facility in Detroit suggesting it is no coincidence that this is a city with one of the country’s largest Black populations.
The report notes that utilities have also funded police organizations including Exelon, the largest utility in the U.S. It is described as a “prolific donor” to police foundations in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington D.C. BGE, one of Exelon’s subsidiaries, is a sponsor and sits on police foundation boards.
banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo provide funding for fossil fuel companies and they provide funding for police foundations. JPMorgan Chase is a sponsor of of the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation, which has used some of its funding to acquire surveillance equipment. A JPMorgan Chase executive also holds the Secretary/Treasurer position on the police foundation’s board.