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Michigan Freedom Fund campaign seeking to associate Gov Whitmer with the Defund the Police Movement is false and misleading

August 29, 2022

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece about how there is a public perception that the Democratic Party is in favor of defunding the police.  This reality is simply not true, despite the far right’s attempt to label the Democrats as  being anti-police.

A recent example of this kind of misinformation, can be found on the August 26th from the DeVos-created, pro-GOP blog, Michigan Freedom Fund. The Michigan Freedom Fund post creates a false narrative, both with video and written content that is simply dishonest. 

The video created by Michigan Freedom Fund attempts to make the claim that it is Gov. Whitmer’s fault that Michigan cities are seeing a rise in crime. The video uses a montage of news clips from various Michigan-based TV stations, a few graphics and audio of Whitmer saying over and over, “I’m riding with Biden.” The video is sophomoric and is a longstanding tactic used to blame politicians for violent crime.

The written commentary that the Michigan Freedom Fund (MFF) uses isn’t much better, but it’s worth looking at in greater detail. Here is what the MFF blog post says: 

Governor Whitmer supports the “spirit” of defunding the police. The Whitmer-Biden inflation has exhausted law enforcement budgets and taken police off the streets, and lockdowns like the ones Whitmer implemented here in Michigan led to a spike in violent crime. But with your help, we can stand up to the Whitmer-Biden agenda, and make Michigan safe again!

First, the claim that Governor Whitmer supports the spirit of defunding the police is completely out of context. The source for such a claim is the far right news source, Breitbart.  However, a basic function of journalism is to question what politicians say and them compare it to the actual policies they have adopted. In this case, even if Gov. Whitmer agrees with the “spirit of defunding the police,” her actions are completely the opposite. 

Last December, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a nearly unanimous bill that would provide an additional $300 Million for policing, legislation that was supported by Gov. Whitmer. In fact, two months before the legislation was passed, Gov. Whitmer’s office released their own Media Statement fully endorsing an additional $32 Million for policing in Michigan. In addition, if Gov. Whitmer is so opposed to funding the police, why has she been the recipient of $3,000 in police union funding?

Second, the Michigan Freedom Fund blog post makes the claim that Whitmer/Biden inflation has depleted police budgets and taken cops off the streets. The source used for this claim is a Fox News story that only references one Sheriff in Isabella County who says that the cost of gas has hurt their department’s budget.  Now, I can’t speak to every community across the state, but in Grand Rapids, the City Council voted to increase the GRPD budget and at the most recent Public Safety Committee presentation the Grand Rapids Chief of Police made it clear that they just had several new recruits complete their training, along with more new recruits that will be started their training in the coming months.

Third, the Michigan Freedom Fund blog post claims that Gov. Whitmer’s decision to lockdown the state in 2020, led to a spike in violent crime. Again, the source used is Fox News, which says nothing about an increase in violent crime in Michigan. In fact, the Fox News story only references New York, California and Chicago as examples of where crime has spiked.

Lastly, it is important to talk about the purpose of this Michigan Freedom Fund piece, especially since its primary purpose is to get their supporters to equate Gov. Whitmer with not only the rise in crime here in Michigan, but to equate her with the defund the police movement. This effort by the DeVos-created organization has been effective, since most GOP supporters embrace the “Back the Blue” mantra. It doesn’t matter that the claims are false, only that it paints the Democrats as soft on crime and undermining the cops. Equally important is the fact that the Democrats have not questioned or responded to misinformation campaigns like this one from MFF. The Michigan Democratic Party could challenge the claims found in the MFF smear campaign, especially since the claims are false and that the Democratic Party does support policing, even the increase in policing funding. However, it is my suspicion that the Democrats are choosing to not contest the Michigan Freedom Fund misinformation, because they still want to appeal to the Black Lives Matter supporters and other more progressive and radical voters whom they will need in the November Election, regardless of the fact that Democrats are equally committed to supporting the police, as has been demonstrated by their policies to increase funding for police departments across the country and in Michigan. 

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