Minnesota bail fund nonprofit receives online threats over post-protest donations

The Minnesota Freedom Fund was a popular choice for donors after George Floyd's death.

A Twin Cities nonprofit that received more than $30 million in donations in the wake of the civil unrest has been the target of online threats over claims it's not distributing its funds quickly enough.

Minnesota Freedom Fund pays cash bails and immigration bonds for those arrested in Minnesota who can't afford to bail themselves out, and was a popular choice for donations following the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and riots.

But on Monday, it became a target for criticism on Twitter, with said criticism seemingly whipped up by suspicious accounts, after it announced it has so far paid out more than $200,000 in bail since the unrest, and was "working on doing more."

The organization also removed its staff page after it was criticized for showing all-white staff, but it has told BMTN that it did because its board members and staff were receiving threats of doxxing – the malicious publishing and sharing of individuals' private information. 

Board president Octavia Smith also said that contrary to the claims online, 4 of its 7 board members are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color).

The registered nonprofit has found itself with significantly more donations than it is used to handling, and in response to the criticism that it hasn't made enough bail payments in the wake of the unrest, Smith said that's because most of those arrested during the protests weren't jailed.

"Instead they were given citations and were then released," she said. "We are working with a group of arrestees to provide legal support."

She went on to say that before the death of Floyd and the protests that followed, its ability to pay bails was limited to $1,000 a day and $5,000 a month for immigration bonds.

"Due to the uprising we are still paying bails daily and the amount can be between $78 to $78,000 and beyond," she said.

The nonprofit has also said that it is "scaling up" in the wake of the deluge of donations so it can handle more cases, while its website has posted links to several other funds to encourage people to donate their money elsewhere.

It has also received support from some in the Twin Cities who are familiar with its work.

On Twitter, it posted a thread in which it explained how much has changed in the past month.

"We are a volunteer community fund who until last month was doing all we could to pay a handful of misdemeanors each month, steadily paying, getting funds back, raising more $ when we could, doing it again," it posted.

"This is the part where transparency gets exciting. We get to talk about all the people sitting in jail who didn't take plea deals, sitting in jails pre-trial. We can share about the race and class disparities of those jailed pre-trial. And we can take action we'd only dreamed of."

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The "legal support" it is providing refers to those protesters who "had no bail but were scooped up and charged, and now have ongoing legal costs," which it says could cost tens of thousands of dollars in representation, court fees, and transportation costs.

"Part of fighting pre-trial injustice means making sure people aren't pleading guilty on bullshit charges, like being hit with Riot while on a friend's porch, which happened," it said.

You can read the MFF's full Twitter thread here.

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