by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A leader of President Joe Biden’s anti-gun violence initiative is a former left-wing activist who decried larger police budgets in the wake of the George Floyd crime wave.
Biden launched the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention on Sept. 22, as part of his administration’s effort to “combat the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our families, our communities, and our country apart.” Officially helmed by Vice President Kamala Harris, the initiative will be led in part by Greg Jackson, the former executive director of the left-wing Community Justice Action Fund.
The president lauded Jackson and Rob Wilcox, whom Biden also tapped for the office, for “being advocates for change.” But the change Jackson advocates for puts him at odds with a major White House stance.
Jackson has attacked police departments and their budgets throughout his career, including in a January 2021 University of Maryland policing seminar when he lamented that he is “struggling to survive while … police budgets thrive.” That same year, Jackson participated in an Obama Foundation webinar entitled “Re Imagining Policing,” during which he touted “community-led violence intervention and prevention strategies” in place of traditional law enforcement. The goal, Jackson said, is to “ultimately reduce the need for policing.”
Biden has sought to distance himself from anti-police rhetoric throughout his term, a stance that has put him at loggerheads with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. During his 2022 State of the Union address, Biden said, “the answer is not to defund the police, but to fund the police.” The White House webpage announcing the Office of Gun Violence Prevention notes that “President Biden continues to call” for legislation that “would put more police officers on our streets.”