Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley

: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: Unknown


* Was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018
* Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus
* Supports the Green New Deal
* Has advocated the defunding of the Department of Homeland Security
* Calls for defunding police departments across the U.S.
* Supporter of Black Lives Matter, reparations for slavery, criminal-justice reform, & immigration reform
* Encouraged “unrest in the streets” in 2020
* Has great antipathy for Israel


Ayanna Pressley was born on February 3, 1974 in Chicago, where her mother was a tenants’ rights advocate with the Urban League. After attending Boston University from 1992-94, Ms. Pressley worked as a senior aide for Democrat Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, and then as political director for Senator John Kerry. She subsequently went on to serve in leadership positions with groups like the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, Young Professionals Preventing Child Abuse, and the Children’s Trust Fund. She was also a mentor with the Young Black Women’s Society and the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Moreover, Pressley became a member of the NAACP and sat on the boards of Emerge Massachusetts (a state affiliate of Emerge America) and the UMass Boston Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, among others.

In 2009 Pressley was elected as an at-large representative on the Boston City Council, a post she went on to hold for 9 years.

In 2011 she keynoted the launch event of Women’s Pipeline for Change, an organization that seeks to bring more “women of color” to positions of “public leadership in Massachusetts.”

In 2015, EMIILY’s List presented Pressley, who believes that there should be no room in the Democratic Party for anyone who opposes abortion rights, with its Rising Star Award.

Campaign for Congress in 2018

In 2018 Pressley ran for Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Endorsed by the Boston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and by Justice Democrats, her campaign promoted a so-called “Equity Agenda,” which characterized income disparities between blacks and whites in her district as “the legacy of decades of policies that have hardened systemic racism, increased income inequality, and advantaged the affluent.” In an effort to address the issue of racism, Pressley spoke out in support of the National Football League players who had chosen to kneel during the playing of the pre-game national anthem as a gesture of protest against police brutality and racial injustice allegedly aimed at African Americans. “It is necessary that we are disruptive right now and making people feel uncomfortable,” said Pressley.

Pressley’s Campaign Agenda Items (Racism, Criminal Justice, Free College, Minimum Wage, Taxes, Immigration)

Also during her congressional campaign, Pressley:

  • characterized the disproportionate number of incarcerated blacks in the U.S. as a manifestation of “modern day slavery”;
  • advocated a plan that would allow all students to attend public colleges and universities free of charge, with taxpayers picking up the full tuition tab;
  • pushed for the passage of paid family leave legislation for employees needing to take extended time off from work in order to help an ailing family member;
  • called for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 per hour;
  • derided the 2017 Republican tax-cut bill as a measure that unfairly gave tax breaks to the highest earners and corporations;
  • condemned President Donald Trump’s proposed barrier along America’s southern border as “Trump’s hate wall”;
  • advocated the defunding of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), on grounds that it represented an “existential threat” to “immigrant communities”; and
  • spoke out in favor of both the DREAM Act, federal legislation that would establish a path-to-citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, and former President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program, which had been enacted via a 2012 executive action protecting hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens from deportation.

In June 2018, Pressley announced her support for defunding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, in light of what she viewed as the agency’s central role in enforcing immigration policies that were deeply destructive. Said the congresswoman in a statement: “Our immigration system is fundamentally broken and ICE’s role in supporting the existing system – including separating families seeking refuge in the United States and conducting indiscriminate deportation raids in our communities – is creating an atmosphere of toxic fear and mistrust in immigrant communities…. [W]e must remove the existential threat facing immigrant communities by defunding ICE … [and its] draconian enforcement methods.” Pressley further condemned “the deplorable conditions in ICE detention facilities.”

Alliance with The Nation of Islam

In 2018 Pressley held a campaign event with Nation of Islam members outside the radical Muhammad Mosque No. 11 in Boston.

Election Victory in 2018

In the September 2018 Democratic primary, Pressley defeated ten-term incumbent Michael Capuano by a margin of 58.6% to 41.4%. Two months later, she ran unopposed in the general election. After taking her oath of office in January 2019, Pressley joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Supporting the Green New Deal

Rep. Pressley was quick to announce her support for fellow congressional freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s “Green New Deal,” environmental legislation designed to rapidly eliminate all fossil-fuel use from the U.S. economy, create a basic income program and a federal “living-wage” jobs guarantee, implement a government-run health care system, and replace free-market capitalism with a socialist economic framework.

Defunding the Department of Homeland Security

At a February 2019 press conference organized by groups like MoveOn.orgIndivisibleUnited We Dream, and CASA, Pressley joined Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib in demanding cuts to federal funding for the Department of Homeland Security. “We are here to draw a line in the sand, in the name of love and in the name of justice,” said Pressley. “It is clear that we must reduce and not increase funds for the DHS.”

Calling for Trump’s Impeachment

In an interview with Boston Public Radio in February 2019, Pressley argued that President Trump should be impeached immediately because “the occupant of the White House … has lost all moral authority and the high ground, and certainly it appears there could be evidence of obstruction of justice and other things.”

Federal Tax Lien Against Pressley’s Husband

In February 2019 as well, Pressley’s husband, Conan Harris, paid off a $17,430 government lien against him for unpaid federal taxes during 2014-16.

Supporting “The For The People Act” (Reducing the Minimum Voting Age to 16)

In March 2019, Pressley proposed the so-called “For The People Act,” an amendment advocating that the legal minimum voting age be reduced from 18 to 16. “Across this nation,” said Pressley in a statement explaining her rationale, “young people are leading the way – from gun violence, to climate change, to the future of work – they are organizing, mobilizing, and calling us to action…. I believe that those who will inherit the nation we design here in Congress by virtue of our policies and authority should have a say in who represents them.”

On March 1, 2021, Pressley reintroduced H.R.1 along with fellow Democrat Representatives Grace Meng (NY) and Jan Schakowsky (IL). Said Pressley in a statement: “A sixteen-year-old in 2021 possesses a wisdom and a maturity that comes from 2021 challenges, 2021 hardships, and 2021 threats. Now is the time for us to demonstrate the courage that matches the challenges of the modern-day sixteen and seventeen-year-old. My amendment with Congresswomen Meng and Schakowsky would lower the voting age for federal elections from eighteen to sixteen years of age, and allow young people to have a say in our federal elections and the policies that impact their lives today and will shape the nation in their lifetime.”

Supporting Identity Politics, Hating Trump

Speaking at a Netroots Nation convention in July 2019, Pressley exhorted minorities to embrace group-think and identity politics: “[W]e don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice. If you’re worried about being marginalized and stereotyped, please don’t even show up because we need you to represent that voice.” At the same event, Pressley refused to refer to Donald Trump as the president, saying: “I will always refer to him as the occupant.”

Refusing to Condemn Antifa Attack Against ICE Facility

After a self-identified Antifa activist attempted to carry out a terror attack against an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Tacoma, Washington on July 13, 2019, a reporter from Rebel Media repeatedly asked Pressley, who had often characterized ICE’s treatment of migrants as brutal, if she planned to condemn the incident. For nearly two minutes, Pressley ignored the questions, refused to answer, and walked away as the reporter followed her in hopes of getting a response. (See video.)

Advocating Prisoner Releases As a Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

During an interview with MSNBC host Al Sharpton on March 14, 2020 — when many Americans had grown highly concerned about a deadly outbreak of contagious coronavirus — Pressley said that she and other congressional Democrats were lobbying the Bureau of Prisons to consider offering “compassionate” releases to many convicts, so as to protect them from contracting the virus:

“[W]hen we are talking about our most vulnerable, our low-income residents and those experiencing homelessness, our seniors and that we are also including the incarcerated men and women, who are amongst one of the most vulnerable populations, and given the crowding and overpopulating in our prisons for a confluence of other reasons we won’t get into in this interview, Reverend, but you are certainly well aware of, are an ecosystem and a petri dish for the spreading of this pandemic, which is why I partnered with my colleagues, Representatives [Nydia] Velázquez, [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez, and [Rashida] Tlaib, to lobby the Bureau of Prisons [BOP] to use their full power to communicate guidance for how we will contain and mitigate this epidemic behind the wall…. I think now would be the time to commute some sentences, to exact clemency and to take care of our most our vulnerable. Ten percent of those incarcerated are over the age of 60 and already have an underlying condition. We should be using compassionate release.”

Defunding the Police

In the aftermath of the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd — a black man who had died after being abused by a white police officer in Minneapolis — a number of U.S. cities were overrun by violent riots in which Antifa and Black Lives Matter played a major role. One outgrowth of the chaos was a movement calling for the defunding of police forces in cities across the United States. On June 25, 2020, Pressley told TIME magazine that she supported efforts to defund police departments nationwide and to pay blacks a “refund” and “true reparations.” “This is about investment in communities,” she added. “There’s a reason why the Congressional Black Caucus submits an alternative budget every year. Because we know that our communities have been historically under resourced, underinvested in and divested [from].” Asserting that police “needn’t play a role in every part of society,” Pressley argued that communities should invest more money in social workers, counselors, and school nurses instead.

Supporting Black Lives Matter, Reparations for Slavery, Criminal-Justice Reform, Immigration Reform, Education Reform

On June 25, 2020, Pressley delivered a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives in which she said that the Black Lives Matter movement was a mandate from the people, and that it was “time” for Americans to “pay us [blacks] what you owe us.” Added the congresswoman:

“I rise today on behalf of every Black family that has been robbed of a child. On behalf of every family member that has been forced to see their loved one lynched on national television. Driving while Black. Jogging while Black. Sleeping while Black. We have been criminalized for the very way we show up in the world. Under the harsh gaze of far too many, my Black body is seen as a threat, always considered armed.

“Centuries of institutionalized oppression will not be undone overnight, for racism in America is as structural as the marble pillars of this very institution. With the power of the pen we must legislate accountability, dismantle these systems, and move in the direction of justice and healing…. Our Black skin is not a crime, it is the beautiful robe of nation builders.”

In July 2020, Pressley and fellow congresswoman Rashida Tlaib partnered with the Movement for Black Lives — a coalition closely tied to the Black Lives Matter movement — in promoting the BREATHE Act, a bill that called for:

  • defunding police departments nationwide;
  • abolishing the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) agency
  • decriminalizing illegal border entry by foreign nationals into the United States
  • eliminating state gang databases
  • establishing a commission to design a reparations plan for African Americans
  • “enfranchising all formerly and presently incarcerated people in federal elections”
  • drastically reducing the U.S. Department of Defense budget
  • “incentivizing States to pass laws that expand voting access”
  • “allowing local and State resident voting for undocumented people”
  • ensuring “full and free access” to a “lifetime of education for undocumented people”
  • creating a jobs program to aid the “most economically disadvantaged individuals, including groups that disproportionately include Black cis- and trans women, formerly incarcerated people, undocumented people, and disabled people”
  • ending life sentences in prison
  • repealing all existing state juvenile offenses
  • decriminalizing and retroactively expunging state drug convictions
  • abolishing the “three strikes” criminal law
  • prohibiting pretextual stops and “consent” searches
  • eliminating tools to track parolee location such as ankle monitors and smartphone applications
  • closing all federal prisons and immigration detention centers
  • “removing police, armed security and metal detectors and other surveillance equipment from schools and government offices that provide social services”
  • “eliminating all fees and surcharges within the criminal-legal system and forgiving outstanding court debt”
  • developing school curricula that “examine the political, economic, and social impacts of colonialism, genocide against indigenous people, and slavery”
  • establishing commissions that “design reparations for mass criminalization—including the War on Drugs, the criminalization of prostitution, and police violence; border violence; and the systemic violation of the U.S. Government’s treaty obligations to Tribal nations”

“There Needs to Be Unrest in the Streets”

While Democrat-led American cities nationwide were being overrun by violent riots sparked by the aforementioned May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd — riots in which Antifa and Black Lives Matter played a major role — Pressley said in August 2020: “This is as much about public outcry, organizing and mobilizing and applying pressure, so that this GOP-led Senate and these governors that continue to carry water for this administration, putting American people in harm’s way, turning a deaf ear to the needs of our families and our communities – hold them accountable. Make the phone calls, send the emails, show up. You know, there needs to be unrest in the streets for as long as there’s unrest in our lives.”

Demanding That Congress Denounce the “Systemic Racism” of Police Forces

Also in response to the May 2020 death of George Floyd, Pressley joined 45 fellow House Democrats – including such notables as Ilhan Ohmar, Karen Bass, Jesus Garcia, and Barbara Lee — in calling upon Congress to denounce the event as an emblem of the “systemic racism that has plagued law enforcement agencies throughout our history.”

Prioritizing Prison Inmates for Coronavirus Vaccines

In a December 20, 2020 appearance on CNN’s Inside Politics, Pressley, who a day earlier had been among the very first Americans to receive a coronavirus vaccine, pushed for the incarcerated to also be prioritized as recipients. Said the congresswoman: “I did have the vaccine administered yesterday in order to maintain the continuity of government, but also because I live with, like millions of Americans, two preexisting conditions, and doing my part, both to keep myself safe so that I can continue to do my job to fight for my district and the American people, keeping my family safe, but also stopping the spread of this virus which has raged out of control, which has everything to do with the willful criminality of Donald Trump…. I’m going to continue to fight for our most vulnerable communities who have been disproportionally impacted by the virus, for our health care workers, for our essential workers, for our incarcerated men and women to be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccine.”

Calling for Continued Unrest & Protests Against Racism

On January 14, 2021, Pressley took issue with President-elect Joe Biden‘s recent call for a return to a brand of normalcy which he described as “the way of democracy — of lawfulness, and of respect — respect for each other, and for our nation.” “There will be no reset button. No return to normal,” Pressley tweeted. “The status quo was unjust in the first place.”

Advocating COVID Relief Payments to Immigrants, Legal & Illegal

In January 2021 as well, Pressley was one of dozens of elected Democrats who signed a letter to both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, recommending that in any future coronavirus relief proposals, the federal government should be required to issue recurring payments not only to American citizens, but also to “all immigrant workers, refugees, and their families.” “Recurring direct payments until the economy recovers will help ensure that people can meet their basic needs, provide racially equitable solutions, and shorten the length of the recession,” said the letter.

Pressley revisited this theme in a February 11, 2021 tweet in which she exhorted fellow congressional Democrats to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt and provide $2,000 monthly payments to American citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens alike in the next coronavirus relief package: “We can cancel at least $50K in student debt right now and send families, including our immigrant neighbors, $2,000 survival checks a month until this crisis is over. Let’s make it happen.”

Blaming “White Supremacist Mobs” for the January 6, 2021 Uprising at the U.S. Capitol

During a February 7, 2021 appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Pressley spoke about the infamous January 6, 2021 incident where several hundred people claiming to be Trump supporters had temporarily occupied the Capitol building to protest what they viewed as a stolen presidential election. The fact that a number of black custodial workers had been subsequently tasked with cleaning up what Pressley called the “mess left by that violent white supremacist mob,” was, in her words, “a metaphor for America”:

“He [Trump] will forever be the twice impeached president by the Democratic majority, and now the Senate must hold Donald Trump accountable but also to bar him from running for public office ever again. We know that he had accomplices who told on themselves in broad daylight. They aided and abetted this insurrection by perpetuating this big lie, and they must be expelled. Then we must continue investigating so that any individuals or agencies that enable this insurrection are taken into account.

“Let me say this, for those who continue to feign great surprise about what happened on January 6, as a black woman, to be barricaded in my office using office furniture and water bottles, on the ground, in the dark, that terror, those moments of terror is familiar in a deep and ancestral way for me. I want us to do everything to ensure that a breach like this never occurs at the Capitol. I want us to address the evil and scourge of white supremacy in this nation. This is not only about securing the Capitol to ensure that members and our staffs and custodial staff, and food service are safe in the Capitol. It is that we’re safe in America. And one of the images I’m haunted by is the black custodial staff cleaning up the mess left by that violent white supremacist mob. That is a metaphor for America. We have been cleaning up after violent white supremacist mobs for generations, and it must end.”

Federal Jobs Guarantee

On February 18, 2021, Pressley introduced a resolution calling for a federal job guarantee. Said the congresswoman: “It’s time to establish a legal right to a job for all people in America. For years, we have legislated hate, harm and injustice in this country. It’s long past time to pursue bold, intentional policies that affirm equity and recognize the dignity and humanity of all people. A federal job guarantee is an important investment in the American people, our communities, and an equitable economy that works for all. It affirms the right to meaningful, dignified work and a living wage. I’m proud to build upon and honor the legacy and work of generations of Black women Civil Rights leaders by introducing this historic resolution.”

Mandatory Living-Wage Jobs

In a tweet which she posted four days later, Pressley said: “A reliable job. A living wage. A federal job guarantee lays the foundation for economic justice & freedom.” The jobs advocated by Pressley would pay at least $15 per hour as a starting wage and would also include health insurance, paid sick days, paid family medical leave, paid vacation time, and retirement benefits.

Calling for the Abolition of Police Forces

Pressley was outraged by an April 11, 2021 incident where a white female police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota accidentally shot and killed a young black man named Daunte Wright, who was resisting arrest and attempting to flee. Suggesting that police forces should be abolished altogether because they were too racist and corrupt to reform, the congresswoman tweeted: “From slave patrols to traffic stops. We can’t reform this.”

Supporting Palestinians, Condemning Israel

When Israel launched a military bombing attack targeting infrastructure strongholds of Gaza-based Hamas terrorists who had recently fired nearly 2,000 Iranian-made missiles into the Jewish state, Pressley went to the House of Representatives’ floor on May 13, 2021 and said: “Palestinians are being told the same thing as black folks in America: ‘There is no acceptable form of resistance.’ […] The pain, trauma, and terror that Palestinians are facing is not just a result of this week’s escalation, but the consequence of years of military occupation. […] We cannot remain silent when our government sends $3.8 billion of military aid to Israel that is used to demolish Palestinian homes, imprison Palestinian children, and displace Palestinian families. A budget is a reflection of our values. I’m committed to ensuring that our government does not fund state violence in any form, anywhere.”

Lamenting That Illegal Aliens Suffer from America’s “Discriminatory Legal System”

In mid-May 2021, Pressley was one of 35 House Democrats (led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) who wrote a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Tae Johnson, demanding changes to immigration policies allegedly rooted in America’s “discriminatory legal system.” According to the 35 legislators, an interim enforcement memo issued by ICE: (a) did “not adequately protect the liberty interests of asylum seekers,” and (b) unjustifiably presumed that illegal migrants who had been convicted of aggravated felonies should necessarily be regarded as “border security and enforcement and removal priorit[ies].” “This blanket presumption will effectively mean detaining an untold number of people who have fled persecution,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter further claimed that the “definition of an aggravated felony” was nothing more than a “relic of the racist War on Drugs.” “‘Aggravated felonies’ as a category have been designed to ensure that people have as few rights as possible to fight detention and deportation,” wrote Pressley and her colleagues. “Moreover, we are concerned that the memorandum only requires ICE officers have a ‘good faith belief’ that someone has an aggravated felony conviction even while acknowledging that such a determination is ‘a complex question.’” The lawmakers also claimed that the ICE memo “invites racial profiling” by designating migrants convicted of participating in gang activities as “public safety enforcement and removal priorit[ies].” “We are in a moment of racial reckoning in this country, with communities across the country calling for an end to mass incarceration and racist policing,” the letter said. “It is time to end the carceral approach to immigration, which relies on these same flawed systems.”

Aside from Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez, the 35 signatories to the letter included such notables as Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman, and Carolyn Maloney.

Redefining the Term “Infrastructure”

On August 11, 2021, Pressley cheered the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that the Senate had just passed with 50 Democrat votes along with 19 Republican votes. Claiming that the term “infrastructure” means much more than what it has traditionally meant — roads, bridges, tunnels, and ports — she tweeted: “Care is infrastructure. Climate justice is infrastructure. Housing is infrastructure. We can and we must meet the moment.” Speaking on National Public Radio (NPR), Pressley said she would work to ensure that future infrastructure bills will “meet the moment” and “be responsive to the needs of the people” when it comes time for her to vote on them. “What progressives have been clear about since day one, as has President Biden, as has Democratic leadership, is that any vote on the narrow bipartisan infrastructure package must also come with a movement on a massive investment in tandem for workers and families. And that’s care economy, housing, combating climate change and a pathway to citizenship for millions of our immigrant neighbors. If we’re serious about a just, equitable and robust recovery, it means making these sorts of bold investments and a sweeping package that meets the moment.”

Pressley Favors Rent “Cancellation” While She Collects Thousands in Rental Income

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21, Pressley repeatedly called for the “cancel[lation]” of tenants’ rent requirements, and for a “moratorium” on tenant evictions, claiming that such measures constituted “a matter of public health.” She went so far as to co-introduced legislation — the “Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act” — to “institute a nationwide cancellation of rents and primary home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.” Pressley drafted the bill along with Rep. Ilhan Omar. The bill advocated “a full payment forgiveness, retroactive starting April 2020, with no accumulation of debt for renters or homeowners and no negative impact on their credit rating or rental history.” It also called for the establishment of “a relief fund for landlords and lenders to cover losses from the cancelled payments.”

Meanwhile, Pressley and her husband were collecting thousands of dollars worth of rental income from a multi-unit Boston-area home which they had purchased for $615,000 in 2019. They rented one of the units for $2,500 per month.

Voting Against Funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” Missile Defense

On September 23, 2021, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly – by a 420 to 9 margin — to pass legislation providing $1 billion in supplemental military assistance to help fund Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The 9 opposing votes included Pressley and fellow Democrats Rashida TlaibIlhan Omar, Cori Bush, Raúl Grijalva, Marie Newman, Jesus Garcia, and Andre Carson. Only one Republican voted against the bill, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hank Johnson voted “Present.”

False Claims That Border Patrol Agents Are Whipping Illegal Haitian Migrants

During the week of September 19, 2021 – by which time more than 14,000 Haitians had recently gathered under a bridge on the banks of the Rio Grande in hopes of gaining approval for asylum in the U.S. — the media were abuzz with accusations claiming that Border Patrol agents were using whips to prevent those Haitians from illegally entering the United States. Specifically, the controversy was sparked by photographs of agents mounted on horseback attempting to corral incoming migrants. Some photos showed the agents twirling their reins to coax the horses in certain directions. Many critics misidentified the reins as whips that were being used to harm and degrade the migrants.

Paul Ratje, the photographer responsible for the images in question, said that neither he nor any of his colleagues had seen Border Patrol agents whipping anyone. “Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses, and that’s when the whole thing happened,” Ratje explained. “I never saw them whip anyone. The agent was swinging the reins that to some can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the pictures.”

Rowdy Ballard — who, prior to retiring, had spent 17 years on horseback for the Border Patrol and had served 6 years as the horse coordinator for Del Rio, Texas — told Fox News: “We all have the same message: we don’t carry whips.” Explaining that the Border Patrol does not train its agents to whip illegal migrants, and that those agents hardly ever place their hands on people “unless they’re not compliant,” Ballard said on America’s Newsroom: “It was a tense situation. The horses were a little reluctant to do the job that the agents were asking… twirling the reins was just another tool they used to get the horses to do what they’re asking.”

Notwithstanding the fact that the “whipping” claims were entirely false, the Biden Administration quickly announced that: (a) horse patrols at the border would be immediately suspended pending further investigation of the charges, and (b) the specific agents in the aforementioned photos would remain on administrative duty while the probe was being conducted. Biden’s announcement prompted Rowdy Ballard to say: “The horse is a great tool we’ve used [at the Border Patrol] for almost 100 years now. And with that going, it’s going to be harder to patrol that area.”

Rep. Pressley described the “whip” controversy as “egregious and white supremacist behavior.” “Haitian lives are black lives,” she said. “They’re lives, and they’re black lives. And if we really believe that black lives matter around the globe, this is the moment to stand up.”

Defending a Congresswoman Who Likened the U.S. & Israel to Hamas & the Taliban

While questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a video call on June 7, 2021, Rep. Ilhan Omar said: “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.” In response to Omar’s remarks, twelve Jewish Democrat members of the U.S. House criticized the congresswoman for “equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.” Contrary to the actions of those dozen, Pressley came to Omar’s defense, tweeting on June 10: “Stop the bad faith attempts to take @IlhanMN‘s words out of context. She called a simple question. […] Imagine if Congress was as outraged by what Palestinians endure daily.”

Massive Social Media Presence

As of September/October 2021, Pressley had approximately 550,000 followers on Twitter and 93,600 followers on Instagram.

Pressley Condemns the Kyle Rittenhouse Jury Verdict

On August 25, 2020 — during a violent Black Lives Matter/Antifa riot which followed an incident where a white Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer had shot and permanently disabled a knife-wielding black criminal named Jacob Blake — Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white youth from Antioch, Illinois, drove to Kenosha, where his father resided, with the intent of: (a) helping to prevent further vandalism in that city, and (b) providing medical aid to people injured in the melee. At the scene of the unrest, Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic rifle that had been purchased (with his money) and held for him by his friend Dominick Black, a resident of Kenosha. When white rioter and Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum — who had spent 15 years in prison for multiple child molestation convictions that included anal rape — chased Rittenhouse, threatened to kill him, and tried to take away his rifle, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum.

While subsequently being chased by a crowd of approximately a dozen rioters, Rittenhouse ran down a street toward police vehicles, in hopes that the officers might protect him from his pursuers. But the fleeing Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground, at which point he was struck on the head by a 39-year-old white man who jump-kicked him. Then, while Rittenhouse was still on the ground, white Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber — a domestic abuse repeater and an ex-convict who in 2013 had pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of strangulation, suffocation, and false imprisonment — struck him on the head and neck with a skateboard and attempted to pull away his rifle, at which point Rittenhouse killed Huber with a single gunshot to the chest. And when white West Allis resident Gaige Grosskreutz — who had a long arrest history that included multiple misdemeanors and felonies — then approached the fallen Rittenhouse and pointed a handgun directly at him, Rittenhouse shot him once in the right arm, wounding but not killing the man.

Rittenhouse was subsequently tried on six criminal charges which included homicide, reckless endangerment, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. A large number of leftists portrayed him as a racist, Trump-supporting white vigilante who had recklessly fired his gun at “social justice” and “racial justice” demonstrators in Kenosha.

After a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts on November 19, 2021, Pressley tweeted: “Racism & white supremacy remain the bedrock of our legal system. My heart breaks for the family & loved ones of those whose lives were stolen, and the trauma our communities face today and every day. The struggle for accountability, for justice, for healing goes on.”

Pressley Spent Thousands on Private Security While She Called for Defunding the Police

On March 7, 2022, the Daily Caller reported that according to a newly released Statement of Disbursements of the House records, Pressley, who had repeatedly advocated the defunding of police departments, spent $63,000 of her Member Representational Allowance (MRA) on private “security service” in 2021.

Blaming Mass Shooting in Buffalo on “White Supremacy”

On the afternoon of May 14, 2022, an 18-year-old white man shot and killed 10 people in a Buffalo, New York supermarket located in the heart of a predominantly black community. Eleven of the 13 people who were shot, were black. That evening, Pressley tweeted: “White supremacy and gun violence are grave threats to all of our communities and the brutal, hateful, and targeted shooting in Buffalo is devastating. Praying for everyone impacted. It is so far beyond time for Congress to act and save lives.”

Arrested at Pro-Abortion Rally

On July 19, 2022, Pressley was one of at least 17 House Democrats who were arrested outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, where they were attending an abortion-rights rally to protest the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Those arrested included the following:

Condemning the Killing of a Mentally Ill Black Man Aboard a Subway Train

On May 1, 2023, a 30-year-old homeless black man named Jordan Neely — who was afflicted with autism and schizophrenia and had a rap sheet that included at least 42 arrests — marched back and forth inside a New York City subway car while he ranted and screamed at the other passengers. At one point, according to a subsequent report by a fellow passenger named Juan Alberto Vasquez, Neely yelled: “I don’t have food, I don’t have a drink, I’m fed up. I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison. I’m ready to die.”  Then, as Neely’s actions became increasingly menacing, a white U.S. Marine veteran aboard the train took him down and placed him in a ckokehold — a move that resulted in Neely’s death.

In response to the incident, an outraged Pressley posted a tweet that said: “Black men deserve to grow old — not be lynched on a Subway.”

Opposing a House Resolution Affirming U.S. Support for Israel

On July 18, 2023, Pressley was one of nine Democrats who voted against a House resolution (introduced by Republican Representative August Pfluger) that affirmed U.S. support for Israel. The resolution passed by a margin of 412 to 9. The other eight representatives who opposed it were Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Summer Lee, Andre Carson, and Delia Ramirez.

Claiming That U.S. Southern Border Is “Secure”

In a September 27, 2023 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Pressley repeatedly insisted that America’s border with Mexico was secure, even as she acknowledged that massive numbers of migrants were flowing illegally across that border the U.S.  Below is a transcript of key portions of that interview:

TAPPER: So Republicans’ biggest criticism of the bipartisan Senate spending bill, this compromise that’s being worked over on the other side of Capitol Hill, said it does not contain additional funding for border security. Right now, the U.S. is facing a crisis at the border and this historic wave of Venezuelans migrants crossing into the U.S.  The U.S. could not deport most of them or any of them because of the frosty diplomatic relations with Venezuela. More than 7.7 million people have fled Venezuela. There’s no sign this is slowing down. Do you agree something needs to be done about our border, that it is just not sustainable? […]

PRESSLEY: […] No doubt about it, our border is secure. And we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and we have to fix a broken system and we ought to —

TAPPER: You think it is secure? You think the border is secure? Or it’s not secure?

PRESSLEY: I believe that we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and there needs to be federal investment to support those migrant families, and I work with a number of the community-based organizations on ground and they need more support, they need more federal support. This is a humanitarian crisis and it is the consequence of a number of long-standing broken policies that, you know, are very consequential for asylum seekers, TPS holders and DACA recipients writ large. But that is a conversation for another day.

TAPPER: I don’t disagree with this being a humanitarian crisis at all. But just to get some clarity on this and sure, it’s a conversation for another day. But do you think that the border is secure? I just — is that what you said?

PRESSLEY: Yes. The border is secure. And we’re in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that has been created by a broken system. In the meantime, we need federal investment to support my constituents and those who call the MA-7 home writ large, which is why we need to prevent a government shutdown.. […]

TAPPER: But if you have millions of undocumented migrants coming into the country, how is the border secure?

PRESSLEY: Jake, this is not a new crisis. It does require more political will and commitment. It is a humanitarian crisis. […] [A]nd what I see on the ground is community-based organizations and municipalities who need federal support.

TAPPER: I’m not disagreeing with anything you’re saying except for the idea that the border is secure. If you have people crossing border, it’s by definition not secure. If you have people coming to United States — in fact, I mean, one of the arguments being made, and I think it is an argument worth considering, is that because our border is so porous, millions of people make this very unsafe journey. Millions of people give money to people who prey on them, coyotes, and take them on these journeys to cross into the United States, preying on them, vulnerable people. And that’s because the border is not secure. Because it is not secure, they go on this journey, and one of the arguments that is made, and maybe you disagree with it, is that the border should be secure so as to discourage people from making this journey. So that if people want to try to come to United States, and declare asylum and seek asylum, they go through the proper corridors and not just try to cross illegally. But it just seems like just such a refusal to acknowledge reality to say that the border is secure, when we all know millions of people are crossing the border illegally every year.

PRESSLEY: Jake, and that is a consequences of a number of things. We have climate refugees. People that have been destabilized by extreme weather events.


PRESSLEY: We have people that are (AUDIO GAP) violence and corruption.


PRESSLEY: And so we just have to acknowledge why someone would leave their native country and their family and risk so much.

TAPPER: A hundred percent, yeah.

PRESSLEY: It is because they are — and asylum is a human right. And so, we must do better and more by TPS holders, by DACA recipients and asylum seekers.And we must do more and better by those who already call this country home who stand to really struggle if there is a Republican government shutdown that could have been avoided if the Republicans knew how to govern. But instead, they lead from a place of contempt, callousness and cluelessness an,d they continue to play to the extreme parts of their base. Political gamesmanship playing with people’s lives […]

TAPPER: Okay. It sounds like in there you acknowledge that there are millions of people crossing the border illegally, which would mean that the border is not secure. But I mean, I don’t disagree with any of the points that you made about these people are trying to seek better lives and they’re escaping all sort of horrible things. But would you grant me the point that the border is not secure?

PRESSLEY: Jake, that is a conversation for another day. Right now I’m squarely focused on preventing a government shutdown and (AUDIO GAP).

Refusing to Stand with Israel Against Hamas

At daybreak on October 7, 2023 — which was the major Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah — the Islamic terror group Hamas carried out a massive, multi-front, surprise attack against Israel, firing thousands of rockets from Gaza into the Jewish state, while dozens of Hamas fighters simultaneously infiltrated the Israeli border in a number of locations by air, land and sea. The attack had been planned in conjunction with officers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, along with agents of three other Iran-sponsored terrorist groups. “In an assault of startling breadth,” reported CBS News, “Hamas gunmen rolled into as many as 22 locations outside the Gaza Strip, including towns and other communities as far as 15 miles from the Gaza border. In some places they gunned down civilians and soldiers as Israel’s military scrambled to muster a response.” By , October 8, at least 600 Israelis had been killed and 1,800 wounded, making it the deadliest day Israel had seen in decades. Moreover, Hamas took hundreds of Israelis hostage, including dozens who were American citizens, and moved them to the Gaza Strip. The terrorists also paraded Israelis’ mutilated bodies through the streets of Gaza, to cheering crowds of Palestinians. By October 19, the official casualty toll in Israel had reached more than 1,400 dead (including at least 32 Americans) and 4,500 injured.

On October 25, 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 412-10 in favor of H.R. 771, a resolution titled “Standing with Israel as It Defends Itself against the Barbaric War Launched by Hamas and Other Terrorists.” The resolution stated, among other things, that the House of Representatives “reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense”; “calls on all countries to unequivocally condemn Hamas’ brutal war against Israel”; “reaffirms the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security”; “condemns Iran’s support for terrorist groups and proxies, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad”; and “urges full enforcement of United States sanctions against Iran to prevent Iran’s funding of terrorist groups.”

Pressley’s Positions on Various Issues

Pressley believes that:

  • the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) should serve as a stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run healthcare system, which Pressley describes as “Medicare For All”;
  • all employers, public and private, should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to nonwhites and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
  • U.S. defense spending should be scaled back dramatically;
  • wealthy people should be required to pay much higher tax rates than those who earn less;
  • capital punishment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and is never justified, under any circumstances;
  • federal spending on infrastructure projects and job programs is crucial to the success of any economic recovery plan; and
  • the nationalization of failing banks and companies is more appropriate than government bailouts on their behalf.

Further Reading: “Ayanna Pressley” (Ballotpedia.org, Votesmart.org, Keywiki.org, OnTheIssues.org).

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