1,000 signatures reached
To: Target CEO Brian Cornell
Target Corporation: Stop Funding Police Departments and Support Our Communities
We - Target customers, employees, and Shipt Shoppers - are asking Target to immediately cease its funding of police foundations and its Safe Cities program. To correct the corporation’s years of funding invasive surveillance and broken-windows style policing, Target should commit to providing funding - equal to that which it invested in cracking down on low-level offenders - to community based alternatives to policing, social services that help eliminate the need for police altogether, and wage increases that support the livelihoods of its own employees.
Why is this important?
As protests across the country call for elected officials to #DefundThePolice, Target uses its profits to do the opposite. As long as Target Corporation continues to invest in the very systems that perpetrate violence in Black communities, any statements it makes in solidarity with Black Lives Matter ring hollow. By providing funding and legitimacy to punitive policing strategies in Minneapolis and across the country, Target bears a unique responsibility for the circumstances that lead to the death of George Floyd and countless other victims of police brutality.
According to Target’s own annual report, Target has awarded grants to more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies across the country. (1)
Starting in 2003, Target Corporation launched its “SafeZone collaborative” program in Minneapolis. The origin of the program, according to Target, was, “a widespread feeling some years ago in the city of Minneapolis that the downtown business district was not a pleasant place to work or visit.” In order to make visiting its stores a more “pleasant experience,” Target provided $300,000 for a CCTV system across downtown Minneapolis, used by police to crack down on panhandlers and other “lifestyle offenders.” (2)
By 2006, Target Corporation had expanded the program significantly and “SafeZone” became a registered 501(c)3 organization. Target even recruited one of its own executives to serve as the organization’s Executive Director and paid his salary as the organization got off the ground. The organization expanded to include more than 20 different safety programs including a text-based crime “tipping” system and a “Court Watch” program, “in which SafeZone partners attend court proceedings to ensure that judges are aware of how seriously the community considers the prob-lem of crime in the SafeZone.” Target eventually created its own forensic services lab, which provides forensic analysis and expert witnesses to local police departments free of charge. (3)
Target’s “Safe Cities” program has expanded to more than 20 cities nationwide. While its operations and the flow of funds from Target Corporation to police departments remain somewhat opaque, it continues to provide direct funding to police departments across the country. Through its public safety grants program, Target donates to police foundations that acquire equipment for police departments through private funding channels, allowing them to bypass public oversight. A handful of Target’s executives sit on these foundation’s boards and facilitate the strategic funneling of resources to beef-up police responses to low-level offenses. In 2007, for example, the Los Angeles Police Foundation approached Target for a $200,000 donation to acquire state of the art surveillance software created by Palantir. (4) Target promptly provided the funds and advertised its new “unique public-private partnership” with the LAPD. In 2008, Target made a similar donation of $300,000 to the Baltimore Police Department to “portable command posts and enhance a cell-phone tracking system.” (5)
In targeting “lifestyle offenders,” Target Corporation embraced the toxic “broken-windows” theory of policing that directly contributes to the criminalization of Black people specifically, and the working class, generally. Prioritizing these low level offenses leads to a massive increase in police confrontations (that can be deadly), arrests that funnel communities into the criminal justice system, and surveillance practices that undermine the privacy of the communities it claims to serve. (6)
1 - https://corporate.target.com/_media/TargetCorp/csr/pdf/2010_overview.pdf
2 - https://perf.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/Free_Online_Documents/Safe_Cities/targets%20safe%20city%20program%20-%20community%20leaders%20take%20the%20initiative%20in%20building%20partnerships%20with%20the%20police%202010.pdf
3 - https://perf.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/Free_Online_Documents/Safe_Cities/targets%20safe%20city%20program%20-%20community%20leaders%20take%20the%20initiative%20in%20building%20partnerships%20with%20the%20police%202010.pdf
4 - https://www.propublica.org/article/private-donors-supply-spy-gear-to-cops ; http://www.lapdonline.org/newsroom/news_view/38662
6 - https://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://scholar.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1123&context=cl_pubs