The online fundraising platform, GoFundMe, has sparked a major political backlash after canceling a fundraiser in support of truckers protesting against coronavirus vaccine mandates.
The Freedom Convoy 2022 initiative, which originated in Canada, has encouraged thousands of activists to stand in solidarity with Canadian truckers initially taken issue with the country’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau’s left-wing government’s implementation of vaccine requirements to re-enter the country by land introduced in January.
GoFundMe, the for-profit fundraising organization whose headquarters are in the liberal heartland of Redwood City, California, announced on Friday that it was seizing the funds already donated to the initiative via the platform, which total in excess of $10 million (€8.7 million), and would be shutting down the truckers’ fundraising page.
After initially suspending the page pending an internal review on Wednesday, the fundraising platform went on to announce that the page would be permanently removed and “no further funds will be directly distributed to the Freedom Convoy organizers.”
A statement by GoFundMe controversially announced that the significant sums already raised would be redirected to “credible and established charities” that are “verified” by the platform, including Black Lives Matter and Greenpeace.
However, GoFundMe appears to have backed down after threats of investigation for fraud made from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
GoFundMe was forced to walk back its claim that people who donated would have to file an application for a refund, and announced donors would automatically get their money back.
“To simplify the process for our users, we will be refunding all donations to the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser,” read a statement from the platform. “This refund will happen automatically — you do not need to submit a request. Donors can expect to see refunds within 7-10 business days.”
GoFundMe did not, however, reverse its decision to close the convoy’s page.
The company had initially cited that although the protests were initially peaceful against the Trudeau regime and its coronavirus policy, it had now “received evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.”
Of the thousands who have supported the widely-reported protests, there have to date been just three arrests — one for carrying a weapon, one individual who was charged with mischief under $5,000, and another for online threats via social media.
Critics of the action taken by GoFundMe include billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who accused the platform of “double standards” in a tweet on Friday, and posted a meme referring to the platform as “professional thieves.”
Musk also posted a screenshot of the GoFundMe social media accounts publicizing fundraisers directly linked to the far-left Black Lives Matter’s occupied protest in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington back in 2020.
The nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 saw more than 14,000 arrests as protests against police brutality turned violent, totaling between $1-2 billion in insured damages across the United States. During those protests, there were dozens of murders, including of Black males such as former police chief David Dorn, who were trying to defend their communities from rampant looting.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump also released a statement on Friday in support of the truckers, pouring scorn on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has accused the convoy of peddling “hate, abuse and racism” in its protest against government-mandated vaccination.
“The Freedom Convoy is peacefully protesting the harsh policies of far left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates,” Trump said.
The decision of GoFundMe to cancel the truckers’ fundraising platform has led to outrage across North America, with #BoycottGoFundMe trending on Twitter across the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom. Many social media users have vowed never to use the platform again for its perceived double standards.
Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich has since rallied the protesters, announcing on Friday evening that the initiative has been accepted by another online platform, GiveSendGo, and will continue raising funds for the truckers.
“GiveSendGo is going to to enable us to get donations into the hands of truckers much, much quicker,” Lich said in a video.
“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,” she added.