Ottawa Police Service received backlash after they thanked GoFundMe for removing the Freedom Convoy’s fundraiser.
GoFundMe — a popular crowdsourcing platform — announced that they would shut down the Canadian Freedom Convoy page, through which organizers raised millions of dollars to support individuals and truck drivers protesting Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The company has since committed to refunding donors.
Ottawa Police reacted favorably to the move, lauding GoFundMe for refusing to aid “unlawful demonstrations.”
“We want to thank @gofundme for listening to our concerns as a City and a police service,” the agency tweeted on Friday. “The decision to withhold funding for these unlawful demonstrations is an important step and we call on all crowdfunding sites to follow.”
We want to thank @gofundme for listening to our concerns as a City and a police service. The decision to withhold funding for these unlawful demonstrations is an important step and we call on all crowdfunding sites to follow.
— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) February 5, 2022
However, some on Twitter blasted Ottawa Police for suppressing peaceful protests.
“You give cops everywhere a bad name,” Canadian commentator Lauren Chen said. “Shame on you, disgusting fascists.”
“The obvious and ongoing collusion between governments and tech companies to censor political speech and shut down lawful opposition is one reason why many of us have called for new antidiscrimination laws similar to ones applied in public accommodation & common carrier settings,” Federal Communication Commission official Brendan Carr noted.
“Lol,” podcast host Tim Pool said. “Abolish the police.”
Several Republican attorneys general from across the United States have publicly announced that their offices will be investigating whether GoFundMe violated state laws as it pulled the Freedom Convoy’s fundraiser and initially said that it would send the money to other charities.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said that GoFundMe’s decision to provide automatic refunds to donors was “not the end of the story.”
“I still want to hear from you if you donated,” Yost told Ohio residents. “This needs to not happen again! It is deeply troubling to me that a professional fundraiser like #GoFundMe thought they had a right to take donations they are holding in trust and simply ‘redirect’ them. We are going to get to the bottom of this.”
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged residents to contact his office if they had “been victimized by a deceptive act or practice” by GoFundMe.
“#GoFundMe now won’t honor #FreedomConvoy donations and will instead redirect to other charities? In WV, organizations must not deceive donors and engage in deceptive advertising practices. If you’ve been victimized by a deceptive act or practice, let us know!” Morrisey wrote. “According to their website, #GoFundMe is not automatically refunding the donations. Individuals interested in a refund can submit the form below if they do so by Feb 19, 2022. This will avoid the ‘redirecting’ of the donation.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry responded: “I share the concerns of @WestVirginiaAG. My office will be looking into whether or not #GoFundMe violated our state law. If you are a Louisiana donor to the #FreedomConvoy, please contact my #ConsumerProtection Section!”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody replied to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement that the state would investigate GoFundMe. “I’m sick and tired of corporations imposing their political will on unsuspecting consumers,” she said. “As always, I will work with @GovRonDeSantis to ensure Floridians are protected.”
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