Embrace, an organization in Wisconsin that provides shelter and services to victims of domestic violence across four different counties, lost $25,000 of its funding for 2021 when a county executive board voted to withdraw funding after the organization voiced support for Black Lives Matter, HuffPost reported. Along with their funding, 17 law enforcement agencies have said they will no longer work with the domestic violence organization. Though law enforcement had previously worked with Embrace, the departments viewed its support of Black Lives Matter as an anti-police stance–a view, HuffPost reports, that is spreading through other states.
Across the country, law enforcement agencies are forcing domestic violence organizations to choose between them and the Black Lives Matter movement. Organizations in Nebraska and Idaho have also faced backlash from their local law enforcement agencies, after signing a letter that HuffPost describes as “decrying the consequences of centering police and prisons as the solution to violence and calling for greater investment in community resources.”
While officers are still bound by their positions to answer calls related to domestic violence, those who have cut ties with domestic violence agencies are no longer required to alert victims to available services. In the case of Embrace, the organization is concerned that the lack of collaboration with police puts their current support system for victims out of reach for those who need it. Without police officers referring victims to Embrace they may be unaware of the organization’s existing shelter or hotel voucher system that temporarily houses victims who feel unsafe or are unable to return to their homes.
Embrace, which operates in a predominantly white area, felt compelled to put Black Lives Matter signs on their property in an effort to signal to victims of color that they would be safe with the organization. It is a kind of safety that doesn’t always come from just calling the police and reporting a crime. As my colleague Esther Wang previously reported, “There is an overwhelming body of evidence that not only clearly demonstrates how poorly police departments around the country handle and investigate sexual assaults and rapes, but that officers regularly wield their authority to commit sexual assault.”
But officers who have been under heavy scrutiny for several years over the mounting deaths of unarmed Black men and women—particularly those that have taken place in Wisonsin—chose to prioritize their feelings over the safety of the community they took an oath to protect. Somehow, the reasonable response to hurt feelings was to take away necessary funding from an organization that works to prevent the recurrence of domestic violence.