A page set up on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe for the man accused of killing six and injuring dozens more when he allegedly plowed his SUV through a Christmas parade has been shut down after critics pointed out the campaign.
Screenshots of the since-removed fundraising effort on Darrell Brooks' behalf show that a campaign was created with a goal of $5 million, the amount of bail on which the suspect is being held. First reported by Law Enforcement Today, the GoFundMe page explained that "our dear friend Darrell Brooks was arrested for allegedly driving his car into a parade, as someone who knows Darrell personally I can tell you that he would NEVER do such a thing and I know he is innocent of what he was charged with."
Due to the campaign organizer's apparent belief in Brooks' innocence, he explained that the fundraiser was created to get the money necessary to make bail "so Darrell can be released and speak his truth to his side of the story... in a purely political and racist trial." The campaign's description ended with the hashtags "BLM" and "No Justice No Peace."
But GoFundMe isn't supposed to allow campaigns to raise funds for the legal defense of individuals accused of violent crime.
Ironically, as Rebecca covered last week, GoFundMe had just publicly reiterated its policy against fundraising for those accused of violent crimes in the wake of Kyle Rittenhouse's exoneration.
After reports of the bail fund effort started popping up, Twitter users pointed out the apparent double-standard between GoFundMe's insistence that Rittenhouse's legal defense couldn't be crowdfunded on its platform and it's — now short-lived — allowance of the campaign on Brooks' behalf.
I wonder how much money will be raised to bail out the Waukesha killer? How long will gofundme allow it to remain on the platform? pic.twitter.com/Gql5nYOxBD— John Curtis (@Johnmcurtis) November 24, 2021
According to the GoFundMe terms of service, users agree "not to use the Services to raise funds or establish or contribute to any Fundraiser with the implicit or explicit purpose of promoting or involving" a laundry list of items, including "the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind."
As Rebecca's post points out, conservatives were wary to believe GoFundMe's supposedly clear-cut and unbiased application of its terms of service. After all, facing multiple counts of first degree intentional homicide — as Waukesha suspect Darrell Brooks is — certainly seems like the kind of thing that would prevent GoFundMe from being used to collect funds to try and bail Darrell Brooks out. Again.
A spokesperson for GoFundMe told Fox Business that the individual who initially created the crowdfunding campaign for Brooks' legal defense has been banned from organizing future fundraising efforts on the platform. The spokesperson claimed that "fundraisers with misuse are very rare, and we take all complaints very seriously," adding "our team works with law enforcement to report issues and assists them in any investigations they deem necessary."
But as Fox Business also highlights, GoFundMe has allowed legal defense funds for those accused of violent crimes, violating its own terms of service. Magically, though, the fundraiser Fox Business highlighted in its coverage for the legal defense of Marc Wilson — who faced charges in the shooting death of a 17-year-old girl — suddenly vanished from GoFundMe's site after being active from July 2020 to November 2021.