Find out if Verizon promotes police funding and the idea that the US is racist

A TikTok video attacks telecommunications company Verizon in two parts, addressing the polarizing issues of police funding and racism.

The video poster wrote: “You woke up, you’re broke! I just canceled my Verizon account!” Below that text is a headline copied from a Fox Business article that read:

“Verizon Promotes Police Funding and America’s Fundamentally Racist: Report.”

The article is based on a blog post by Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist who opposes critical race theory.

TikTok has identified videos with this post as part of its efforts to combat inauthentic, misleading, or bogus content. (Learn more about PolitiFact’s partnership with TikTok.)

A similar claim was made on another website and this headline was shared on Facebook.

Verizon sponsors a “Race & Social Justice Action” program for employees that includes sessions with guest speakers.

Verizon says the goal of the program is to discuss racism and promote change, and the company does not support police funding.

A description of the program on the Verizon website states, “The thoughts and beliefs expressed by stakeholders are theirs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Verizon. “

In one session, a speaker advocated for some form of police funding, and in another session, a speaker spoke about the lingering effects of racism in America, dating back to slavery.

Fund the police

Funding for the police movement rose to prominence in the days following the assassination of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, 2020, sparking protests across the country against police violence. Some protesters called for the elimination of police services altogether, while others wanted to review the functions of police services and redirect some of their funding to other services.

Rufo cited Adrian Burrell’s comments during a Verizon session on criminal justice reform in July 2020. Burrell describes himself as a storyteller who examines race. The other speakers were an advocate for youth justice and sentencing reform and a criminal defense lawyer on appeal.

Rufo’s blog post accurately quotes Burrell calling for more police resources to be diverted to community groups. Here’s a fuller account of what Burrell said, according to a recording of the session:

“I just think at this point I feel like the system is down and I feel like the over-policing isn’t working. And I feel like those same resources are aimed at to hire police and get people in contact with people with racist prejudices and all these different things, they just have to aim to bring more resources to the community at the root level, and then you won’t have it all. you just don’t need that many cops. And if you want to call it “abolish the police,” or if you want to call it “fund the police,” so be it. But I really think we just need the resources to be more focused on benefiting the community, not hiring more police and giving them militarized equipment. “

America “fundamentally racist”

Rufo also cited a Verizon program in August 2020 in which the speaker was Khalil Muhammad, professor of history, race, and public policy at Harvard.

Rufo’s blog post says Muhammad argued that America is inherently racist; that the founding fathers built a slave economy; and that it produced the economic incentives that prevail today, with corporations “exploiting the poor in low-income communities” in the same way as slave owners.

Here is a more complete account of what Muhammad said on these points, according to a recording of the session:

  • Muhammad recalled Floyd’s murder and compared it to other murders of blacks with tragic accidental deaths. He said: “What we have here are systems of racism which were intentionally built a long time ago and which have received reform and attention time and time again.”

  • Muhammad said, “There is no foundation of American wealth without the experience of enslaved Africans as generators of wealth for this nation. … Every businessman should ask himself, “Where did the capital come from to generate the value of America at the very beginning?”

  • The founding fathers, he said, “found it very difficult to extricate themselves from the economic incentives that this early version of global capitalism produced for them. If we told this story we would have an easier way to understand why today’s businessmen struggle to change business practices, even when they know they are exploiting the poor in low income communities. . “

Muhammad spoke at another Verizon session on Dismantling Systemic Racism in February 2021.

Verizon’s response

Verizon responded to Rufo’s blog post with a statement saying that any suggestion that Verizon supports police funding “is completely false and absolutely absurd.”

The Verizon sessions included speakers “representing many different perspectives, including both the civil rights community and law enforcement,” the statement said. “Our goal was to have open, and sometimes difficult, conversations about race and the issues facing the United States. Guest speakers were free to express their personal opinions, but none of these opinions necessarily reflected the views of Verizon and was not endorsed by us. Verizon is committed to racial equality and fairness. We also firmly believe that fair and effective law enforcement is essential to a free society. there is no incompatibility between these views. “

We asked Verizon for documents showing the sessions included people with different perspectives, including law enforcement. A spokesperson referred us to the company’s statement.

Our decision

A TikTok video claimed, “Verizon promotes police funding and (the) idea that America is inherently racist.

Verizon introduced a race program to employees that included a speaker who spoke in favor of a certain level of police funding, and a speaker who discussed what he said were the continuing effects of the racism in America dating back to slavery.

Verizon said the program includes conversations about race and that the speakers’ views do not necessarily reflect their own. The company denied supporting police funding.

We rate the claim in the video Mostly False.

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