San Francisco Supervisor Uses Trust Fund to Finance 'Abolish the Police' Groups
Supervisor Dean Preston not only pushes abolish the police, he uses his family's wealth to promote the agenda in the Bay Area and beyond.
San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston, one of the most polarizing politicians in the city, has drawn the support of radical groups who have organized efforts to back his push to defund and dismantle the police department.
The warm relationship is financial as well as ideological.
Preston, a self-described socialist, controls the Arch Community Fund, a charitable foundation backed by his family’s considerable wealth, that he uses to distribute money to activist groups. The fund, formed in 2017 through over $5 million in corporate stock donated by the Preston family, is not mentioned in Preston’s official biography or his campaign website.
But the trust fund wealth has gone to groups that not only share Preston’s values but have protested and amplified the city leader’s efforts to remake the criminal justice system.
The Arch Community Fund has donated $110,000 to the “Anti Police Terror Project,” a group that seeks “to radically transform — and eventually abolish — police and policing.” APTP has mobilized rallies to demand cuts to police funding in the Bay Area, despite surging crime.
Preston also leans on the group for support. He has appeared at rallies against the San Francisco Police Department organized by APTP and last month, he appeared on APTP founder Cat Brook’s program on KPFA radio. His financial support to her group was not disclosed during the interview.
Other recipients of Preston’s family trust work to support his political agenda.
Critical Resistance, a group that similarly seeks to "abolish policing," has written letters and organized rallies in support of Dean’s agenda in San Francisco. The group received two grants from the Arch Community Fund, totaling $55,000.
In 2022, in response to a wave of robberies, a number of private businesses offered the San Francisco Police Department access to live monitoring of security cameras. Preston fought to maintain a ban on this effort. Several activist groups that backed Preston on the push to prevent police access to the cameras, including Chinese for Affirmative Action, the National Lawyers Guild, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, were also recipients of money from Preston’s foundation.
Preston also donates to groups around the country seeking to dismantle police departments.
The Arch Community Fund last year gave $25,000 to Equity and Transformation, an activist group based in Chicago, which works to “defund the police.”
Over the years, Preston’s Arch Community Fund has donated $40,000 to “Freedom to Thrive,” a Portland, Oregon activist group that states its goals as "abolishing prisons, police forces, military forces, immigration enforcement, border patrol.”
The anti-police movement has had perhaps the most devastating impact there. Portland was once one of the safest urban centers in the country, averaging close to twenty homicides a year. After anti-police protests rocked the city in 2020 and activists won cuts to the Portland Police Department, including the abolition of the city's gun violence task force. Following activist victories, the murder rate skyrocketed by a factor of five to over 100 a year.
Community Movement Builders, an Atlanta group that is focused on the "demand not only to de-fund and eventually abolish the police force," but the elimination of "all policing institutions in the United States," has waged a conspiracy-driven campaign against a police and firefighter training center in Georgia.
Community Movement Builders appears to be a favorite among trust fund liberals. In August, Fergie Chambers, the heir to the billionaire Cox media fortune, pledged $300,000 to the group. Last year, Preston’s Arch Community Fund gave $20,000.
Preston grew up in the Greenwich Village area of New York City, the fortunate son of a family that made its money selling medical supplies. He went to Bowdoin College, a private school the Preston family supported financially. The "Preston Public Interest Career Fund" is a fellowship made possible by a "generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Preston,” Preston’s parents, according to the university website.
After college, Preston made his way to San Francisco, marrying into a family that owns several rental apartment buildings. In 2017, along with his brother Alan Preston, “an experienced DEI trainer and facilitator” living in Seattle, Dean Preston founded the Arch Community Fund. The family seeded the fund with millions of dollars worth of corporate stock from Microsoft, Starbucks, Intel, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly, among other blue chip investments, a move that allows the charitable family fund to reap capital gains without paying any tax.