Person

Greg Lewin

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Criminal Justice Activist

Greg Lewin is a public policy analyst and left-of-center activist based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is most notable for his involvement with the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), a legal activist organization that pays bail for arrested individuals and detained illegal immigrants and calls for the state to abolish cash bail, stop enforcing immigration laws, and reduce the incarceration of criminals. Lewin sat on the organization’s board from 2017 to the summer of 2020, when the fund received a significant influx of financial support in connection with the anti-law enforcement protests and riots related to the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd in police custody. That summer, Lewin assumed the position of interim executive director, which he held until March 2021. [1] [2]

During Lewin’s tenure as executive director, the MFF faced criticism from left-progressive activists for taking in more than $30 million in donations while only putting several hundred thousand dollars towards bail payments. [3] The fund also came under scrutiny following revelations that it had covered the bail of several rioters accused of violent crimes, some of whom had extensive prior criminal records. In response, Lewin confirmed that he was aware that his group was bailing out repeat offenders, and said he regularly authorized bail payments for individuals without considering the charges against them because of his opposition to the criminal justice system as a whole. [4]

Early Career

Greg Lewin received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from George Washington University and a dual master’s degree in public policy and education policy from the University of Minnesota. During his time in college and graduate school, he was an intern at several advocacy groups and foreign affairs-focused think tanks, including the left-of-center Eurasia Center and nominally right-of-center Hudson Institute. He also worked as a research analyst for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the Minnesota Private College Council. [5]

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Greg Lewin joined the board of the MFF in 2017 and became the board president in 2019. In the summer of 2020, following the eruption of anti-police protests and riots in Minnesota and across the United States, the fund received an exponential increase in financial support, and Lewin assumed the role of interim executive director. [6] [7]

In June 2020, the MFF posted an announcement on Twitter claiming that it had “paid well over $200k” in bail funds and was “working on doing more” to support those arrested during the protests and riots, which it referred to as an “uprising.” However, the fund came under criticism from some left-progressive activists for only having distributed a fraction of the tens of millions of dollars it had received, and for allegedly being run by white people. Other left-of-center activists defended the MFF, claiming that the discrepancy was justified because it would be difficult for the fund to quickly scale up its operations. [8]

During the civil unrest in the summer of 2020, the MFF helped pay the bail of several accused murderers and numerous previously-convicted felons. Their bail fund recipients included a man who had allegedly fired at police officers and was charged with attempted murder, a woman charged with second degree murder, and a twice-convicted rapist charged with kidnapping and sexual assault. In a statement, Lewin acknowledged that he knew who was receiving his organization’s funds, citing a municipal employee who informed the MFF that it was bailing out sex offenders. He also admitted that he “often” did not “even look at a charge” when he approved bailing someone out, claiming that the charge “is not the point” and that “the point is the system we are fighting.” [9]

References

  1. Mairead McArdle. “Minnesota Freedom Fund Bails Out Violent Criminals Along With Protesters.” Yahoo News. August 11, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://news.yahoo.com/minnesota-freedom-fund-bails-violent-193232856.html ^
  2. Greg Lewin. LinkedIn. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/glewin/ ^
  3. Khaleda Rahman. “Minnesota Freedom Fund Reveals Only $200,000 of Millions in Donations Has Been Spent to Bail Out Protesters.” June 16, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/minnesota-freedom-fund-reveals-only-200000-millions-donations-has-been-spent-bail-out-1511097 ^
  4. Mairead McArdle. “Minnesota Freedom Fund Bails Out Violent Criminals Along With Protesters.” Yahoo News. August 11, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://news.yahoo.com/minnesota-freedom-fund-bails-violent-193232856.html ^
  5. Greg Lewin. LinkedIn. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/glewin/ ^
  6. Mairead McArdle. “Minnesota Freedom Fund Bails Out Violent Criminals Along With Protesters.” Yahoo News. August 11, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://news.yahoo.com/minnesota-freedom-fund-bails-violent-193232856.html ^
  7. Greg Lewin. LinkedIn. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/glewin/ ^
  8. Khaleda Rahman. “Minnesota Freedom Fund Reveals Only $200,000 of Millions in Donations Has Been Spent to Bail Out Protesters.” June 16, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/minnesota-freedom-fund-reveals-only-200000-millions-donations-has-been-spent-bail-out-1511097 ^
  9. Mairead McArdle. “Minnesota Freedom Fund Bails Out Violent Criminals Along With Protesters.” Yahoo News. August 11, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2021. https://news.yahoo.com/minnesota-freedom-fund-bails-violent-193232856.html ^
  See an error? Let us know!