Crowdfunding platform deletes page for Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal defense, allows pages for criminals (op-ed)
This editorial is brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.
KENOSHA, WI – “Campaign not found.”
The three-word sentence turns would-be donors away from a GoFundMe page previously collecting donations for the teenager accused of shooting into a crowd of protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin and killing two people in the process.
The page was reportedly raising funds for the legal defense of 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse.
Here is Kyle’s legal defense fund if you’d like to donate 👇🏼https://t.co/uhy7LKNeCu
— LeftyCrypto🌹 (@LeftyCrypto) August 26, 2020
Video appears to show the teenager in a crowd of protestors carrying a long gun Tuesday night.
Some have argued that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense and that the video displays as much. He is currently facing first-degree murder charges.
While the fundraising page vanished as quickly as it appeared, several others tied to recent protests remain.
A page promising to use the money raised to bail out Black Lives Matter rioters and looters in Portland, Oregon has raised more than $1.3 million. The description reads:
“The General Defense Committee Local 1 in Portland, Oregon, has established a fundraiser to cover bail and other legal expenses for protesters arrested in Portland, Oregon in connection to protests against George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, along with general police brutality.”
A separate GoFundMe page created by the sister of George Floyd has generated a staggering $14.7 million in donated money.
That page description reads:
“This fund is established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George.”
In direct contrast to the now absent fundraiser for Kyle Rittenhouse, the GoFundMe page for Jacob Blake is now at nearly $1.9 million.
That fundraising page says:
“This fund is established to cover my son’s medical expenses, mental and grief counseling for our family and to assist our family in the days to come, as we continue to seek justice for Jacob.”
The fundraisers for Blake, the family of Floyd and the rioters in Oregon all share one commonality. They point to intended use for “legal expenses” or “justice.”
The National File reports that the page created in support of Rittenhouse was seeking the same: money for his legal defense.
GoFundMe has not issued a detailed statement explaining why the page was removed.
But, it’s not the first time that a fundraising push has disappeared from the site.
Earlier this month, prosecutors in Auburn, Washington charged a police officer with second-degree murder and first-degree assault, in connection with a shooting that had happened more than a year earlier.
Officer Jeffrey Nelson was accused of shooting and killing 26-year-old Jesse Sarey.
BREAKING: Auburn police Officer Jeff Nelson has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting death of 27-year-old Jesse Sarey in May 2019. (via @SJGTimes)https://t.co/XwSvwDGk4V
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) August 20, 2020
On May 31, 2019, The Seattle Times reports prosecutors say Officer Nelson responded to a disorderly conduct call around 6 p.m. The news outlet said Sarey had been accused of throwing things at cars and kicking buildings.
It somehow escalated to a physical altercation, and that is when Officer Nelson allegedly shot and killed Sarey.
Just last week, Law Enforcement Today reported on another case involving Officer Nelson.
“APD settled a lawsuit that awarded $1.25 million for another fatal shooting to the family of a man Officer Nelson shot in the torso and then shot in the head while the suspect was being bitten by a police K9 in 2017.
Now, the shooting in 2017 was heavily defended by the APD back in June of this year, namely because the man shot carjacked a woman at knifepoint and also committed a home invasion when Officer Nelson encountered him.”
Read the full story .
In connection with that case, Officer Nelson received a Medal of Valor.
The accolade was mentioned in the now removed GoFundMe page that had been posted to fundraise for his legal defense.
It is another unexplained disparity by the fundraising giant.
Much like the page once posted for Rittenhouse, that too now reads only “campaign not found.”
Let’s flash back to the platform allowing funds to be raised for Antifa:
GoFundMe shuts down page for cop’s legal expenses, allows ANTIFA to raise funds for criminals
July 4, 2019 – Editor Note: About halfway into the article, we present you with evidence about how ANTIFA is being allowed to raise funds to defend criminals while a campaign to raise funds for an officer was shut down. At the bottom of the article, you can find details about the new campaign that’s been created to help Sgt. O’Neal. We hope that even if you can’t help support the campaign fiscally, you’ll help us pass it along. This warrior needs all of the support he can get.
Absolutely everything about this is wrong.
First, you have Sgt. O’Neal, a 19-year veteran of the South Bend Police Department who had to do his job and take out someone who wanted him dead. O’Neal, who is a married father of one with another child on the way… and who was facing a deadly threat.
Then you have a mayor who wants to be president who is using the incident to fundraise by declaring that cops are racists.
Now… the icing on the cake.
The Fraternal Order of Police created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help defray the legal expenses of Sgt. O’Neal, and the company has shut down the campaign… saying you can’t use the platform to support people who commit hate crimes.
That’s right – the website has decided to be judge and jury, despite the fact that the officer hasn’t been convicted of committing a crime.What’s even worse?
GoFundMe is still allowing ANTIFA, which got Sgt. O’Neal’s fundraising page shut down, to continue to raise funds for someone who openly broke the law.
First – the back story.
Sgt. O’Neal responded to a suspicious person possibly breaking into cars.
He located the suspect, but in his rush to do the job, forgot to activate his body cam.
The suspect was ordered out of the car and had a woman’s purse and a hunting knife. He did not comply with commands and approached O’Neal in an aggressive manor.
O’Neal fired twice, striking the suspect once.
The suspect then threw the knife at O’Neal, striking him in the arm causing minor injury.
Other units responded, and a split-second decision was made to do what’s referred to as a “load and go”.
It’s the best opportunity for the suspect to get to the hospital in the quickest amount of time, something that South Bend Police have used before.
SBPD had previously discussed it with the SWAT team, which includes the area’s top surgeon who is actually on the SWAT team and is said to be all in support of it.
The suspect made it to the hospital but passed a bit later.
The mayor and presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, began pandering to the family and the citizens who are dragging the officer and whole department through the mud.
He’s declared that “systematic racism” plagues the city and the department, and went on to declare just that in fundraising emails attacking the officer.
Mayor Pete then went on his presidential debate and said disparaging words about the department. Officers say he has shown no support for the South Bend Police Department.
They also argue it’s an attempt to not just fundraise… but to seemingly discredit police and create an environment where an investigation is going to be naturally stacked against the officer who did his job and was attacked by a suspect who he had to put down. He went so far as to writing to the Department of Justice to ask them to get involved.
The SBPD FOP Lodge 36 created a goFundMe account, but after Antifa complained about O’Neal and accused him of a hate crime, it was closed by the site.
Keep in mind, the investigation is ongoing. The local prosecutor has turned it over to a special prosecutor who has already been selected.
“Anti-police activists must have pressured GoFundMe into cancelling our campaign to help Sgt. Ryan O’Neill pay for his legal defense in a civil lawsuit filed against him,” Harvey Mills, South Bend FOP President said.
Why was it shut down?
“Shockingly, GoFundMe told us that they cancelled the campaign because it was in support of a hate crime. This is fundamentally wrong and I’m shocked that a company would accuse a police officer of a hate crime simply for defending himself from an armed attacker.”
GoFundMe explained why they not only cancelled the campaign, but shut down the account.
“Unfortunately, our Terms & Conditions, along with strictly enforced policies from the payments industry, prohibit GoFundMe from allow you to continue raising money on our site.”
When it was appealed, GoFundMe’s “Community Management Team” doubled down.
“Campaigns deemed by GoFundMe, in its sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases. We have removed your account.”
That’s not all.
Mills continued, “I find it truly offensive that GoFundMe would cancel our campaign to defend a police officer who hasn’t been accused of a crime while they freely allow violent groups like Antifa to raise money to support criminal acts that have been on the news recently.”
That’s right. ANTIFA is allowed to continue to fundraise on the very platform that just shut down Sgt. O’Neal’s fundraiser.
Want some proof? Here you go.
The above GoFundMe campaign shows legal fees being raised for an ANTIFA activist.
“In protest of white supremacy in lane county, Laura smashed the windows of Wolfclan Armory… they are facing felony charges and are currently incarcerated under $1500 bail….”
GoFundMe sure doesn’t mind allowing that campaign to run.
Oh, what do we have here? Above is another GoFundMe campaign created to bring in speakers for ANTIFA.
This one, above, seems fitting for the organization. An ANTIFA member needs help paying rent. Why? Because… Nazis.
“Hello friends! This fund was created to help with this months rent as my friend was fired from their last gig for opposing the heavy presence of nazi gangs and warning others. It’s been a hard month without work and always watching their back. Any donation would seriously help out this trans femme of color!”
Apparently no hipster coffee shops were hiring, and mommy said “out of the basement with you”.
GoFundMe also didn’t mind a campaign that’s raising money for this ANTIFA rally:
“We are desperately trying to fight oppression and in the South it is a tough uphill battle. Help us unite against fascists and white supremacists and bring back justice to America!”
Keep in mind, ANTIFA is a domestic terror organization that regularly makes headlines for anarchy, destruction and violence.
In the meantime, Sgt. O’Neal shared his thoughts about the support the community has given:
“I’d like to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude, not only to the people who have donated, but to everyone who is following the events in South Bend. The level of support we’ve received is simply overwhelming!
Like so many American families, ours is focused on loving each other and working hard. Being thrown into the middle of a Presidential campaign was something we never anticipated. The support we’ve received is tremendous and has helped to balance the intense pressure we’re under.
Our family will soon grow by one, but this event has helped us realize that we were part of a much larger family all along.”
The South Bend FOP President is calling on Mayor Buttigieg to walk away.
“Mayor Buttigieg has repeatedly shown that he’s more concerned about boosting his own presidential political campaign than ensuring a fair investigation about an incident where a veteran police officer was forced to defend himself when a dangerous felon attacked him with an eight-inch hunting knife,” said Mills.
He said that what’s happening in our country is creating a dangerous divide between civilians and law enforcement.
“On a national TV debate, the mayor called our entire police force racist while another candidate insisted that Buttigieg fire the police chief. Since this incident is now part of the accusations and political posturing of presidential politics, Mayor Buttigieg must do the right thing and recuse himself from any further decisions related to this matter.”
The South Bend FOP points out in a press release that these politicians are intentionally ignoring all of the important details, like the fact that the suspect remained standing but never answered any questions from the officer as to whether he’d been shot… and appeared to be high on drugs.
Mills continued, “Police are taught to treat a knife as a deadly weapon, because a suspect armed with a knife within 21-feet of an officer is as much of a deadly threat as a suspect with a gun. In this case, the suspect armed with an eight-inch hunting knife was less than 10 feet from the officer and refused multiple commands to drop the weapon. In light of self-defense law and police training, this shooting was completely justified.”
According to official court records available to the public, the suspect armed with the eight-inch hunting knife had an active felony warrant for violating his probation at the time of the shooting and likely faced being returned to prison for the remaining seven years of a previous prison sentence if Sgt. O’Neill had arrested him.
That same suspect also had several previous criminal convictions on his record, including drug and weapons offenses.
“Mayor Buttigieg swore an oath to ‘faithfully, impartially, and diligently discharge the duties of the office of mayor’ of South Bend but he’s been faithful only to his political interests, has not been impartial about this incident, and has diligently used this to advance his presidential campaign,” Mills concluded. “If he wants to honor the oath he took, Mayor Buttigieg will recuse himself from this matter by taking no part in any decisions, conversations, or other aspects of it.”
In the press release, Mills went on to point out that, largely because of the efforts of Buttigieg and others to politicize this issue, Sgt. O’Neill has been sued, is facing unwarranted employment discipline, and is being defamed on social media. He may be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and costs.
There’s now a new campaign to help raise funds for Sgt. O’Neal. You can find it right here.
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