Cori Bush's 'Special Advisor' Wants To Abolish Police, Prisons, and the Supreme Court

David Ragland claims the High Court is a 'settler colonizer institution'

Cori Bush, David Ragland (Instagram)
June 4, 2024

A key member of Missouri Rep. Cori Bush's (D.) inner circle, far-left activist David Ragland, seeks to abolish the police, prisons, immigration enforcement, and the Supreme Court, a Washington Free Beacon review found.

Ragland and Bush have been close allies since before she ran for office, launching a pro-reparations group together in 2014. Ragland's biography at George Mason University—where he co-taught a class with Bush in 2022—describes him as her "special advisor." But he has yet to receive serious media scrutiny, even as the congresswoman has become a lightning rod for controversy on Capitol Hill.

The revelations underscore the extent to which Bush, who has championed many of those policies, is aligned with the far-left fringes of American politics. The news comes as Bush is locked into a difficult primary race against St. Louis prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell. One poll shows Bush trailing Bell by 22 points ahead of the August 6 primary.

Ragland in 2022 described the Supreme Court as one of multiple "undemocratic settler colonizer institutions" while calling to "abolish" it.

"#scotus tryna [sic] get their racist wishlist done before new justices come & or the people rise us [sic] and #abolish the #highcourt and these other undemocratic settler colonizer institutions," Ragland wrote on social media. Bush, meanwhile, has cosponsored legislation to expand the Supreme Court, giving Democrats a partisan advantage.

"I don't even celebrate Christmas and all I want is to defund and abolish all the police and their prisons—can Santa help with that?" Ragland wrote in 2021. Earlier that year, he called to abolish "all the prisons" and "all the police." He has also called to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as "American and European exceptionalism." Bush similarly has called to abolish ICE, defund the police, and "dismantle our carceral system."

Ragland's advice for Bush appears to be in an informal capacity—unlike Bush's husband and private security guards, Ragland isn't listed as receiving payments from her campaign. He did, however, cohost a virtual fundraiser for her in February. Bush didn't return the Free Beacon's request for comment.

Ragland cofounded, and Bush codirected, the Truth Telling Project after the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri. The organization describes itself as a "grassroots, community-centered" group that advocates for "truth-telling and reparations processes to achieve Black liberation and BIPOC solidarity, amplify traditionally silenced and disenfranchised voices, and abolish white supremacy." The project is spearheading a Grassroots Reparations Campaign that encourages people to "atone for and/or heal from participation in white supremacist culture, practices, and policies."

Ragland remains the co-executive director of the group. The project's website describes him as "a special advisor to Congresswoman Cori Bush and a number of progressive political candidates throughout the U.S." The Truth Telling Project did not return a request for comment.

In 2016, when Bush launched her political career—an unsuccessful bid for Senate—Ragland was at the campaign kickoff, he tweeted. The two have remained close, and Ragland in an X post described Bush as an "auntie" to his child.

In 2022, Ragland and Bush co-taught a class on "The Public Pedagogy of Truth and Reparations" at George Mason University, where he is an adjunct instructor. His GMU biography similarly describes him as a "special advisor" to Bush.

In May 2023, when Bush held a press conference announcing her reparations legislation, Ragland was there.

"Today Congresswoman Cori Bush released her House Resolution to re-center #reparations, truth and transformation. Rep Cori noted that if our country can spend $$ on war we ought to be able to spend on healing the moral and material harm and violence that built this nation," Ragland wrote in an Instagram post. "Reparationists from around the country gathered to support this resolution to center reparations."

"When the black-white wealth gap is $14 trillion, it's unjust, and it wouldn't happen in a just and fair and equitable society," Bush said at the briefing introducing the resolution. The proposal, titled "Reparations Now," was in support of another bill, H.R. 40, which would form a federal commission to study and develop a plan to distribute reparations for black Americans.

The Fellowship of Reconciliation, a nonprofit group, in an August 2023 post described Ragland as Bush's "lifelong friend," highlighting the two as they walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Selma civil rights march.

While Bush, like Ragland, has called for defunding the police, that hasn't stopped her from shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars on private security for herself.

Bush's campaign since 2019 has paid at least $750,000 for her own private security, primarily by her husband Cortney Merritts. She is still an advocate for defunding the police. Bush told her detractors in 2021 to "suck it up" and "defunding the police has to happen."

​​"So if I end up spending $200,000, if I spend $10 more on it, you know what, I get to be here to do the work," Bush said. "So suck it up, and defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police and put that money into social safety nets, because we're trying to save lives."

Ragland also offered his advice on Israel as the Jewish state continues its war against Hamas. Bush has positioned herself as staunchly anti-Israel.

Ragland in a May 25 post encouraged Bush's support for arresting Israeli leaders for "war crimes."

"Like my home girl Cori Bush-Merritts said 'accountability for war crimes can't be conditional.' Let's normalize this line of thinking!!!" Ragland wrote.

Ragland in January accused Israel of "genocidal violence" and argued that Jewish people are inflicting on others the same suffering that they endured during the Holocaust.

"Israel continues to inflict Palestinians & the world w/ the genocidal violence they experienced from the hands of Europeans before & during WW2[.] Healing is needed, not attacking a more vulnerable group," Ragland wrote. "Imma [sic] need us to learn from our history!"

After violence broke out at a UCLA anti-Israel protest in May, Bush and Ragland lamented that pro-Israel students were not being punished as much as anti-Israel protesters who created an unsanctioned encampment and planned to "push back" against police who attempted to quell chaos on campus. Anti-Israel activists called the pushback a "horrifying, despicable act of terror."

"Where are all the public condemnations from Congress on the violence being committed against anti-war protesters at the hands of police and anti-Palestinian counter-protesters?" Bush wrote in a post.

"Great question," Ragland commented.

Ragland has expressed anti-Israel views for years. In 2019, he called for the ousting of any politicians who support "Israel's war criminal activities" because they are "beyond complicit" and "co-conspirators."

Since Hamas's October 7 attack, Bush has conflated Israel with Iran, condemned Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's actions as "maniacal, genocidal acts," and been accused of "fanning the flames of antisemitism" by a coalition of Jewish organizations.

The Missouri congresswoman is now under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice for misusing funds.