Non-profit

Community Justice Action Fund

Website:

www.cjactionfund.org

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Type:

Gun Control Advocacy Group

Project of:

Tides Advocacy

Formation:

2016

Executive Director:

Amber Goodwin

Community Justice Action Fund (CJAF) is the lobbying arm of the gun-control advocacy and criminal justice reform group Community Justice Reform Coalition (CJRC). CJAF acts as a centralized funding organization[1] for advocacy work done by both groups, which is largely focused on stemming gun violence against Black Americans and placing race relations in the center of the debate on gun control. [2]

CJAF is a project of The Advocacy Fund, formerly Tides Advocacy Fund, the lobbying entity within the Tides Nexus. CJAF’s affiliation with the Advocacy Fund provides them with legal support and fiscal sponsorship. [3]

Ideology

Community Justice Action Fund, which characterizes themselves as the only black woman-led gun-control organization, insists that the “white-led” gun-control movement has failed the black community, according to an op-ed co-authored by CJAF’s founder and another one of the organization’s senior advisors. CJAF espouses the position that the narrative surrounding gun control and gun violence prevention is singularly focused on restricting access to firearms, and it uses the gun deaths of minorities to benefit its message. Therefore, CJAF seeks to expand the gun-debate narrative through focusing on issues of race, such as equating police shootings of Black Americans with gun violence and promoting gang-violence reduction efforts among minority communities. [4]

Senior advisors at CJAF have also pushed the notion that gender and sexuality differences are ignored by the gun-control debate. CJAF’s founder, Amber Goodwin, stated in a congressional testimony that LGBT individuals and women of color have often been ignored by the movement. [5] In a letter to a committee in the Ohio State House of Representatives CJAF national advocacy director Greg Jackson claimed that anti-LGBT violence is “rampant” in America today. [6]

Black Lives Matter Advocacy

In 2020, CJAF wrote a letter that was signed by over 50 other left-progressive organizations, some related to gun control advocacy and others unrelated to it, pledging to stand behind CJAF’s pronouncement that gun-control advocacy must include a commitment to end police violence against minorities. [7]

The letter endorsed “black lives matter,” affirmed that “police violence is gun violence,” claimed that public health approaches must be prioritized over policing, dictated that an anti-racist approach must be part of policymaking and advocacy on gun control, and insisted upon divestment from aggressive policing and funneled into community-based approaches meant to end gun violence, commonly referred to as “defunding the police.” [8]

CJAF often pushes the boundaries of its gun-violence advocacy mission in favor of radical-left views on race. While they supported the passage of legislation that would create stricter access to firearms, they also balked at an added provision supported by 26 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives that would report illegal immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if they attempted to buy a gun, which is forbidden under federal law. CJAF said in a press release that such a provision scapegoats people of color and that “ICE has no place in making communities safer.” [9]

In another similar statement CJAF conflates the issues of gun control and immigration, saying that any lawmaker who refuses to consider legislation repealing functional elements of the Second Amendment, or who supports the deportation of illegal immigrants, enables the radicalization of white individuals and emboldens them to commit mass murder, adding that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ICE employ a “white nationalist agenda” through “lock[ing] up and kill[ing] Black and brown bodies.” [10] 

Support for Rep. Ilhan Omar

Moreover, CJAF developed a support initiative for U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after she was criticized for controversial comments about the attacks of September 11, 2001 and other allegedly anti-Semitic remarks. CJAF called criticism of her an incitement of violence towards people of color. [11]

Lobbying for Federal Funding

At the federal level, Community Justice Action Fund has lobbied Congress to pass legislation to secure $25 million to fund federal research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. [12] CJAF’s advocacy director reported that $33 million was allocated to support violence-prevention programs like theirs. [13]

Leadership

Founding director Amber Goodwin launched Community Justice Action Fund alongside their affiliated organization, Community Justice Reform Coalition, in late 2016. [14] Goodwin is a member of the board of directors at Annie’s List,[15] which supports pro-abortion left-progressive women seeking office in Texas at the state and local levels, and she is also the president of the Student Bar Association at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. [16]

Goodwin began her career working on Capitol Hill as well as for numerous Democratic political campaigns, including for the Obama campaign in 2008 and for Wendy Davis on her losing 2014 Texas gubernatorial race. Later, she held the position of National Advocacy Director for former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords’s Americans for Responsible Solutions (now known as Giffords[17]) and has helped develop multiple non-profit advocacy groups, including the Women’s Coalition for Common Sense, which is a project of the Gifford’s PAC and contains a majority coalition of white left-progressive women leaders from different industries who promote taking guns from anyone accused of crimes against women. [18] Goodwin also spent time as the national deputy director for government affairs at Enroll America, whose express purpose is to sign up health care consumers under Obamacare and to ensure they renew their enrollment. [19]

Goodwin’s deep background in campaign work and community organizing has led her to develop contacts with influential politicians inside the Democratic Party, including U.S. Representatives John Lewis (D-GA), Al Green (D-TX), and Lucy McBath (D-GA), as well as former Houston Mayor Annise Parker (D). [20] Goodwin is listed by the All American Speakers Bureau and Celebrity Booking Agency with a quoted speaking-fee range from $10,000 to $20,000 per engagement. [21]

Fundraising

Community Justice Action Fund holds corporate partnerships with major U.S. businesses like Levi Strauss & Co. [22] and TOMS Footwear. [23] Grants are a significant part of the group’s funding, of which includes a portion of a three-year, $100 million grant provided by Comcast to left-progressive community organizers involved in racial issues. [24] CJAF’s partner advocacy organization, CJRC, received a $2 million grant from Google.org that sponsored the launch of its Peacemaker Partnership, a coalition of other “anti-racism” non-profit organizations and for-profit companies. Funding from that grant went to CJRC, including to grow their advocacy training[25] and to put on an awards summit that sold tickets for up to $10,000,[26] as well as directly to some localities impacted by urban gun violence. [27]

Other CJAF fundraising efforts include participation in Rock the Vote’s Democracy Summer 2020 Virtual Concert, headlined and promoted by celebrity activists like Katy Perry and the Black Eyed Peas, through which CJAF raised money for itself while also encouraging young people to register to vote and support vote-by-mail initiatives. [28]

Several celebrities have supported CJAF in numerous ways. Singer Lady Gaga donated an undisclosed amount to CJAF[29] and alongside singer Selena Gomez gave her social media account for CJAF to use. [30] Furthermore, rapper Vic Mensa, musician MILCK, and actor Taye Diggs have shown up at CJAF-affiliated rallies. [31]

Programs

Peacemaker Training Institute

The Peacemaker Training Institute engages with people interested in advancing CJAF’s mission through free training opportunities offered around the country. It seeks to train activists who will pursue their left-progressive agenda by providing them with the information and tools to participate in a litany of advocacy efforts, such as telling others where, when, and how to vote. In 2019, CJAF began a partnership with Revolve Impact, a for-profit strategic messaging agency, to begin offering these trainings monthly. [32]

Building For Us Campaign

CJAF launched their 5-year Building For Us Campaign in 2019, meant to pressure elected officials to pass left-progressive policies aimed at repealing individual rights to bear arms, defunding the police, and reallocating taxpayer funds to meet left-wing policy objectives. Other stated program goals include working to train new and existing activists to support their mission, empowering leaders within communities of color who have been personally impacted by gun violence, passing funding initiatives that support their strategies and beliefs, increasing research that reinforces their goals for gun-control and other policies, and growing the number of minority voters. [33]

Letter Writing Campaigns

Since CJAF’s first prominent letter writing campaign promoting the idea that police violence is gun violence and endorsing Black Lives Matter, it has continued to use such a framework throughout the civil unrest taking place in 2020 for their issue advocacy. [34] These letters seek to pressure politicians and gain endorsements from other groups and prominent cultural figures like professional athletes. [35]

By Design Campaign

The advocacy done under this project’s umbrella consists of more leadership development of minority individuals, developing strategic messaging, including memes and partnering with pop culture celebrities, as well as redirecting investments for background checks and policing into minority community gun-violence prevention.[36]

Additional Outreach

Another part of CJAF outreach is participation in rallies,[37] put together sometimes with the help of corporate sponsors, like the End Gun Violence Together rally. [38] CJAF also executes other in-person and online panels, such as National Day of Healing, the CodePink summit, and smaller webinars on social media. [39]

Many of CJAF/CJRC’s executive members are also directors at other nonprofits. Michael McBride, director of the Live Free campaign, was the co-founder of CJRC. [40] Qudsia Raja is the policy director at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and serves on the advisory board of CJRC,[41] while also reportedly serving on the boards at CJAF and Collective Action for Safe Spaces. [42]

Lobbying

Community Justice Action Fund lobbies for an agenda encompassing many left-progressive beliefs, including perceived systemic racism and racial inequality in contemporary America;[43] the belief that Black and Native-American women face domestic and police violence at disproportionately higher rates than white women;[44] the opinion that violence against LGBT communities is “rampant” in America today;[45] the notion of “a system of brutality” targeting Black Americans through systemic abuse of force by law enforcement agencies;[46] and a desire to spur the functional repeal of an individual’s right to bear arms. [47]

CJAF supports dismantling the individual right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment, beginning with supporting laws restricting access to firearms. This included lobbying for versions of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) and the “Charleston Loophole Bill” (H.R. 1112) that do not require notifying ICE when unauthorized foreign nationals attempt to buy firearms. CJAF added that restricting individuals on the basis of mental health disorders when purchasing firearms was scapegoating. [48]

CJAF has fought to dismantle “Stand Your Ground” laws, first urging governors and other politicians to oppose removing mandatory duty-to-retreat ordinances in the law and later pushing to institute duty-to-retreat provisions in states that either never had one or repealed them. [49]

CJAF also advocates for measures to curb use of force by law enforcement. In addition, it advocates for funding bills that allocate state and federal funds for violence-reduction programs like theirs. [50]

In early 2020, CJAF unveiled its Policymakers for Peace campaign, which claims to be a nonpartisan coalition of state and local elected officials of color (though every founding official is listed as a Democrat[51]) who will support the passage and implementation of gun-control and other left-progressive policies, with a focus on race. [52]

References

  1. LinkedIn. Slide Share. “Community Justice Reform Coalition Action Fund” July 27, 2016. https://www.slideshare.net/LuisAlcauter/cjrc-concept-paper ^
  2. Gangitano, Alex; Manchester, Julia. The Hill. “Black gun violence prevention group calls for police reform” June 4, 2020. https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/501245-black-gun-violence-prevention-group-calls-for-police ^
  3. Devex. Community. (Organizations) “The Advocacy Fund (Tides Advocacy Fund)” Accessed on June 26, 2020. https://www.devex.com/organizations/the-advocacy-fund-tides-advocacy-fund-57534 ^
  4. Community Justice Action Fund. Campaigns. “Police Violence Is Gun Violence” Accessed June 24, 2020. https://www.cjactionfund.org/pgvg ^
  5. Goodwin, Amber. Written Testimony. (House Committee on The Judiciary) “Community Responses to Gun Violence in our Cities” September 26, 2019. https://www.congress.gov/116/meeting/house/110018/witnesses/HHRG-116-JU08-Wstate-GoodwinA-20190926.pdf ^
  6. Jackson, Greg. Written Statement on Behalf of the Community Justice Action Fund. (Submitted to the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee) June 9, 2020. https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:5c168b34-3249-42c7-b0cb-58ca7c5c0a4b ^
  7. Gangitano, Alex; Manchester, Julia. The Hill. “Black gun violence prevention group calls for police reform” June 4, 2020. https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/501245-black-gun-violence-prevention-group-calls-for-police ^
  8. Community Justice Action Fund. Campaigns. “Police Violence Is Gun Violence” Accessed June 24, 2020. https://www.cjactionfund.org/pgvg ^
  9. Community Justice Action Fund. Press Release. “Closing the Charleston Loophole and Passing the Background Check Bill Are Critical Steps to Saving Lives” February 28, 2019. https://www.cjactionfund.org/press-releases/2019/1/29/wednesday-national-anti-gun-violence-campaign-focused-on-black-and-brown-communities-to-launch-at-dc-office-of-neighborhood-safety-and-engagement-p8rng ^
  10. Community Justice Action Fund. Press Release. “Progressive Groups Call For Congress to Stop White Nationalism and Bring Justice by Ending Gun Violence Once and For All” August 5, 2019. https://www.cjactionfund.org/press-releases/2019/1/29/wednesday-national-anti-gun-violence-campaign-focused-on-black-and-brown-communities-to-launch-at-dc-office-of-neighborhood-safety-and-engagement-p8rng-pfjml ^
  11. Politico. File. “We—the undersigned—stand in solidarity with Representative Ilhan Omar and firmly against  the rise of Islamophobic attacks and attempts to divide us as a people.” April 15, 2019. https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000016a-1e89-d80c-a7ea-5fc9ecfa0000  ^
  12. Schumaker, Erin. ABC News. “Congress agrees on historic deal to fund $25 million in gun violence research” December 16, 2019. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/congress-approves-unprecedented-25-million-gun-violence-research/story?id=67762555 ^
  13. Rivers, Megan. WUSA9. (DC) “’It’s the number one killer’: This DMV resident is hoping to end gun violence” February 16, 2020. https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/dc/dream-makers-gregory-jackson-jr-is-hoping-to-end-gun-violence/65-2f738759-d9b5-4f03-b31b-92dee01116a5 ^
  14. Gale, Rebecca. Cosmopolitan. “Get That Life: How I Started My Own Gun Violence Prevention Nonprofit” July 10, 2017. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/career/a10268847/community-justice-reform-coalition-amber-goodwin-get-that-life/ ^
  15. Annie’s List “Board of Directors” Accessed June 19, 2020. https://annieslist.com/about/board-of-directors/ ^
  16. Mitchell Hamline School of Law. “Blended Learning students elected to top SBA posts” May 13, 2020. https://mitchellhamline.edu/news/2020/05/13/blended-learning-students-elected-to-top-sba-posts/ ^
  17. Ballotpedia. “Giffords” Accessed June 22, 2020. https://ballotpedia.org/Giffords ^
  18. Gale, Rebecca. Cosmopolitan. “Get That Life: How I Started My Own Gun Violence Prevention Nonprofit” July 10, 2017. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/career/a10268847/community-justice-reform-coalition-amber-goodwin-get-that-life/ ^
  19. Goodwin, Amber. Resume. https://www.congress.gov/116/meeting/house/110018/witnesses/HHRG-116-JU08-Bio-GoodwinA-20190926.pdf ^
  20. Gale, Rebecca. Cosmopolitan. “Get That Life: How I Started My Own Gun Violence Prevention Nonprofit” July 10, 2017. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/career/a10268847/community-justice-reform-coalition-amber-goodwin-get-that-life/ ^
  21. AAE Speakers. Biography. “Amber Goodwin” Accessed June 26, 2020. https://www.aaespeakers.com/speakers/amber-goodwin ^
  22. Unzipped Staff. Levi Strauss & Co. “Addressing Gun Violence In Communities of Color” July 26, 2018.

    https://www.levistrauss.com/2018/07/26/addressing-gun-violence-communities-color/ ^

  23. Facebook. TOMS. “TOMS is proud to announce…” July 2, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/toms/posts/10157508106241762 ^
  24. Philanthropy News Digest. “Comcast announces $100 million commitment for social justice, equality” June 10, 2020. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/comcast-announces-100-million-commitment-for-social-justice-equality ^
  25. Gale, Rebecca. Cosmopolitan. “Get That Life: How I Started My Own Gun Violence Prevention Nonprofit” July 10, 2017. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/career/a10268847/community-justice-reform-coalition-amber-goodwin-get-that-life/ ^
  26. Kinetics Live.com. Events-Calendar. “Peacemaker Awards Lunch” September 7, 2020. http://kineticslive.com/events-calendar/peacemaker-awards-lunch/ ^
  27. Luthern, Ashley. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Google pledges $2 million to lower violence in 10 cities, including Milwaukee” June 30, 2017. https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2017/06/30/google-pledges-2-million-lower-violence-10-cities-including-milwaukee/444651001/ ^
  28. Axelrod, Tal. The Hill. “Rock the Vote eyes 200,000 new voter registrations with virtual initiative” May 28, 2020. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/499884-rock-the-vote-eyes-200000-new-voter-registrations-with-virtual-initiative ^
  29. Nolan, Emma. Newsweek. (Culture) “Lady Gaga Has Donated to These Advocacy Groups to ‘Fight For Racial and Social Justice’” June 4, 2020. https://www.newsweek.com/lady-gaga-donate-advocacy-groups-black-lives-matter-1508643 ^
  30. Kacala, Alexander. Today. (Pop Culture) “Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez let black leaders take over their Instagram accounts” June 6, 2020.  https://www.today.com/popculture/lady-gaga-selena-gomez-let-black-leaders-use-their-instagram-t183563 ^
  31. Green, Micha. AFRO News. (National News) “End Gun Violence: TOMS Brings Activists, Politicians, Stars Together” February 12, 2019. https://afro.com/end-gun-violence-toms-brings-activists-politicians-stars-together/ ^
  32. Community Justice Action Fund. Peacemaker Training Institute. Accessed June 28, 2020. https://www.cjactionfund.org/pmi ^
  33. Community Justice Action Fund. Press Release. “WEDNESDAY: National Anti-Gun Violence Campaign Focused on Black and Brown Communities to Launch at DC Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement” January 25, 2019. https://www.cjactionfund.org/press-releases/2019/1/29/wednesday-national-anti-gun-violence-campaign-focused-on-black-and-brown-communities-to-launch-at-dc-office-of-neighborhood-safety-and-engagement ^
  34. Community Justice Action Fund. Campaigns. “#InvestInUs Community Letter To Wisconsin Leadership” Accessed September 10, 2020. https://www.cjactionfund.org/communityletter ^
  35. Community Justice Action Fund. Campaigns. “#InvestInUs Athlete Solidarity Letter” Accessed September 10, 2020. https://www.cjactionfund.org/invest-in-us-wisconsin ^
  36. By Design. Our Work. Accessed June 28, 2020.  https://www.bydesigncampaign.com/ourwork ^
  37. C-SPAN. Video. “RALLY OUTSIDE THE SUPREME COURT AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE” Dec. 2, 2019. https://www.c-span.org/video/?466881-1/rally-gun-violence ^
  38. Green, Micha. AFRO News. (National News) “End Gun Violence: TOMS Brings Activists, Politicians, Stars Together” February 12, 2019. https://afro.com/end-gun-violence-toms-brings-activists-politicians-stars-together/ ^
  39. Facebook. Community Justice Action Fund. “#OurSurvivalStories” June 1, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=956151238146387&ref=external ^
  40. Live Free. (About Us) “Our Staff” Accessed June 26, 2020. http://www.livefreeusa.org/ourstaff ^
  41. Community Justice Action Fund. Team. “Qudsia Raja” https://www.cjactionfund.org/team/qudsia-raja ^
  42. Raja, Qudisa. Washington Post. (Local Opinions) “D.C. must keep black and brown communities safe from gun violence” September 26, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/local-opinions/dc-must-keep-black-and-brown-communities-safe-from-gun-violence/2019/09/26/5aed1a7e-ded7-11e9-b199-f638bf2c340f_story.html ^
  43. Goodwin, Amber. Written Testimony. (House Committee on The Judiciary) “Community Responses to Gun Violence in our Cities” September 26, 2019. https://www.congress.gov/116/meeting/house/110018/witnesses/HHRG-116-JU08-Wstate-GoodwinA-20190926.pdf ^
  44. Goodwin, Amber. Written Testimony. (House Committee on The Judiciary) “Community Responses to Gun Violence in our Cities” September 26, 2019. https://www.congress.gov/116/meeting/house/110018/witnesses/HHRG-116-JU08-Wstate-GoodwinA-20190926.pdf ^
  45. Jackson, Greg. Written Statement on Behalf of the Community Justice Action Fund. (Submitted to the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee) June 9, 2020. https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:5c168b34-3249-42c7-b0cb-58ca7c5c0a4b  ^
  46. Podcast Addict. Progressive Voices. (Episodes)“Breaking Through 06 -06-2020 #DefendBlackLife #DefundPolice” June 7, 2020. https://podcastaddict.com/episode/107741288 ^
  47. Community Justice Action Fund. Strategy. (Policy Agenda) “Agenda Item 2.” Accessed September 8, 2020. https://www.cjactionfund.org/policy-agenda ^
  48. Community Justice Action Fund. Press Release. “Closing the Charleston Loophole and Passing the Background Check Bill Are Critical Steps to Saving Lives” February 28, 2019. https://www.cjactionfund.org/press-releases/2019/1/29/wednesday-national-anti-gun-violence-campaign-focused-on-black-and-brown-communities-to-launch-at-dc-office-of-neighborhood-safety-and-engagement-p8rng ^
  49. Community Justice Action Fund. “This Is Our Ground.” Accessed June 28, 2020. https://www.cjactionfund.org/this-is-our-ground ^
  50. Community Justice Action Fund. Toolkit. Accessed June 29, 2020. https://peace.communityjusticerc.org/toolkit/ ^
  51. Policymakers for Peace. (Who We Are) Founding Leaders. Accessed September 10, 2020. https://policymakersforpeace.org/ ^
  52. Policymakers for Peace. Press Release. “National Gun Violence Prevention Organization Led by People of Color Launches Initiative to Empower Leaders Directly Impacted by Gun Violence” January 29, 2020. https://policymakersforpeace.org/press-release/national-gun-violence-prevention-organization-led-by-people-of-color-launches-initiative-to-empower-leaders-directly-impacted-by-gun-violence ^
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