GoFundMe shuts down donations to Freedom Convoy, will re-distribute the money

Who knew that Canadian truck drivers would lead anti-COVID-19 mandate protests and garner the attention of people around the world? Canadians are known for their politeness and easy-going personalities. Now the truckers are being accused of “occupying” Ottawa as their convoy grows.

GoFundMe was used to fundraise for the truckers, to support them for the duration of their protest. About $10M has been raised on GoFundMe. Last night the site shut down the fundraising page. The reason given was police reports of violence, which violates the terms of the site. The problem with this excuse is that despite thousands of people taking part in the protest, there have only been three people who have been arrested – one charged for carrying a weapon, one charged with mischief under $5,000, and another charged with uttering threats on social media. GoFundMe released a statement and claimed that the protest was peaceful when the fundraising began but now it’s changed, giving them a reason to shut it down.

In a statement on Friday, GoFundMe said the demonstrations were peaceful when the fundraiser first started, but had since violated their terms of service prohibiting the promotion of violence and harassment.

“We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity,” GoFundMe said.

The $1m that has already been released will only go to participants who went to Ottawa to peacefully protest, said GoFundMe.

“No further funds will be directly distributed to the Freedom Convoy organizers – we will work with organisers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities verified by GoFundMe,” its statement added.

Another online platform, GiveSendGo, has come forward to accept donations for the truckers.

In the wake of GoFundMe’s decision, Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich announced Friday night that they have teamed up with GiveSendGo, another online platform, to continue raising funds for the truckers.

‘GiveSendGo is going to to enable us to get donations into the hands of truckers much, much quicker,’ she said in a video published by Rumble.

‘If you can donate and help us keep these truckers going – we plan to be here for the long haul, as long as it takes to ensure that your rights and freedoms are restored.’

Donors have to request a refund by February 19 if they want it. Otherwise, GoFundMe said it will donate the money to charities of its choice.

The Freedom Convoy arrived in Ottawa last weekend and now it is being called an occupation of Ottawa by those in disagreement of the organized protest. Business owners downtown complain of customers having difficulty getting to their shops and delivery people are having problems doing their jobs. Homeowners are complaining about the honking and noise from the trucks at all hours. Members of Canada’s Liberal Party and Prime Minister Trudeau, frustrated that the protesters are not obeying him and disbanding, call the truckers extremists and racists because of course they do. Somehow everything is now racist and demanding personal freedom is extremism. The irony is that 90% of Canadian truckers are already vaccinated. They aren’t anti-vaxxers, they object to government overreach through its mandates. Sound familiar? Canadians don’t have the same level of freedom of speech and assembly that Americans do, though, so it is interesting to watch and see how this all plays out.

The truckers acknowledge that the convoy inconveniences Canadians but puts the blame on politicians.

Trudeau and some of his his Liberal Party allies have accused the convoy demonstrators of extremism and racism, a charge that Lich strongly denied on Thursday.

‘We are here out of love for our families, our communities and our nation. These past two years, the covid mandates have divided us,’ she said in a statement.

‘This protest began because of the federal government’s restrictions on truckers’ freedoms. Our movement has grown in Canada and across the world because common people are tired of the mandates and restrictions in their own lives that now seem to be doing more harm than good,’ she added.

‘We are therefore calling on all levels of government in Canada to end all covid mandates and restrictions. We will continue our protest until we see a clear plan for their elimination.’

GoFundMe CEO Tim Cadogan has not publicly commented on the Freedom Convoy fundraiser. He is on record as a critic of the American government’s response to COVID-19. Last year he told the New York Times that ‘This is a war against a virus. If this were a war against another country at this scale, it would be no question what we would do, right? We would mobilize our society to defeat it.’ He also wrote an open letter to Congress that was published in USA Today calling on emergency funds for Americans to deal with the virus.

GoFundMe has repeatedly flip-flopped over its stance on the Freedom Convoy fundraiser.

It suspended the account twice, before ultimately removing the campaign, and reportedly began refunding donations earlier this week although the company had not yet canceled the fundraiser.

Brad Maier, a convoy donor, said received an email from GoFundMe on Wednesday alerting him that his donation would be refunded but was given no explanation as to why.

‘The email looks legitimate, I just want to wait and see if it actually gets refunded to my credit card,’ he told the Montreal Gazette. ‘Then I will know if it’s legit.’

Others social media users had also reported unexplained refunds from the platform.

Ottawa Police thanked GoFundMe for their action. And, since more protesters are expected to join the truckers today, they ask people to avoid the downtown area.

Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said earlier this week that ‘all options’ were on the table, including calling in the military, to end the ongoing demonstration that some on the city council are calling an ‘occupation.’

Trudeau, responding to Sloly’s remarks Thursday, said the government must be ‘very, very cautious’ about deploying troops on Canadian soil, adding that there has been no such request to the federal government. But he said that any formal requests for assistance from the City of Ottawa or Ontario will be considered.

Elon Musk weighed in on Twitter to point out the hypocrisy on display between how the convoy is being treated versus how Black Lives Matter protests have been handled. The truckers, unlike BLM protesters, aren’t looting and burning down property. They also aren’t violently killing innocent bystanders.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused GoFundMe of hypocrisy after the company canceled the Freedom Convoy fundraiser on Friday after it actively supported a campaign for the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest in Seattle.

‘Double-standard?’ Musk questioned on Twitter Friday night, sharing a screenshot of a tweet the crowdfunding platform published in 2020, amid active riots in Seattle.

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