NAACP, Neighbor to Neighbor, City Life/Vida Urbana and other advocacy groups call for Pioneer Institute official, ex-Romney aide, to resign



NAACP, Neighbor to Neighbor, City Life/Vida Urbana and other advocacy groups call for Pioneer Institute official, ex-Romney aide, to resign

Chieppo’s exploitation of George Floyd death called racist, warrants apology to Black residents; Institute’s opposition to policies supporting Black Lives comes under scrutiny

BOSTON, MA An open letter from leading Massachusetts civil rights groups and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, including the NAACP Boston ChapterCity Life/Vida UrbanaNeighbor to Neighbor, and others, has put forth a call for Pioneer Institute official Charles Chieppo to resign.

The letter comes in response to increasing awareness and documentation of the Institute’s racist origins and funders, and in response to an opinion piece published by Commonwealth Magazine over the summerin which Chieppo evokes and exploits the death of George Floyd to attack public transit and other public service workers, workforces that include a high percentage of employees who are Black.

After going unnoticed for months, the piece resurfaced on social media and began circulating among advocacy organizations, prompting the groups to action.

The new letter from those groups outlines the racist origins and funding structures of the Pioneer Institute and calls for the media to stop using Pioneer as a source until such time as it changes its funding sources and Chieppo resigns.

“Chieppo exploited the name and murder of George Floyd in a manner that warrants Chieppo’s immediate resignation, along with an apology to all Black Massachusetts residents from the Institute and from any leader within the Institute who authorized Chieppo’s evocation of Floyd’s name to grind a political axe,” the open letter reads.

“We ask Pioneer to disclose the full origins of 100% of its funding, and identify which funding sources have fiscal or organizational ties to the American Legislative Council, the State Policy Network, the Bradley Foundation, or other networks that perpetuate or espouse racism or support for the mass incarceration of Black people through the private prison system,” the letter reads. 

In addition to the Boston unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the letter is also signed by Alternatives for Community & EnvironmentChinese Progressive AssociationCity Life/Vida UrbanaCoalition for Social JusticeCommunity Labor UnitedDominican Development CenterDrive BostonGreenrootsNeighbor to Neighbor, and New England United for Justice.

Despite the current and prior ties of Pioneer to national networks with white supremacist policies, funders, and origins, Chieppo has been a frequent commentator and gadfly in mainstream Massachusetts media. From 2003 – 2005, he also served as a policy aide under then-Governor Mitt Romney.

The letter makes an appeal to Massachusetts media outlets that have habitually quoted and published items from Pioneer with little scrutiny of or disclosure of the Institute’s funding sources or the racist origins of its policies.

Those policies include Pioneer’s anti-union stances rooted in doctrines propagated by individuals considered by many to be outright white supremacists such as Vance Muse, and Fred Koch, the founder of Koch Industries, father of Charles and David, and a co-founder of the John Birch Society which opposed civil rights and claimed that desegregation was a communist plot. Koch Industries has donated more than $1 million to Pioneer over recent years.

Specifically, the letter calls for a media boycott of Pioneer Institute content until such time as Chieppo resigns, until such time as the Institute provides a public apology to Black Massachusetts residents, and until such time as the Institute reveals its current sources of funding.

“We call upon media outlets to cease references to the Institute as an ‘independent’ source or as a government ‘watchdog,’ which it is not,” reads the letter, “The Institute, like its ideological predecessors, is designed around policies tailored toward holding back the public advancement of workers, particularly Black workers who are harmed the most by Pioneer’s core lobbying principles of anti-unionism, deregulation, and privatization.”

“To apply the term watchdog to the Pioneer agenda is to further perpetuate the notion that the needs and lives of Black communities must be penned in and guarded against, rather than invested in, supported, and allowed to thrive,” reads the letter.

# # #

The open letter is supported by:

Alternatives for Community & Environment
Chinese Progressive Association
City Life/Vida Urbana
Coalition for Social Justice
Community Labor United
Dominican Development Center
Drive Boston
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP Boston Chapter)
Neighbor to Neighbor
New England United for Justice

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