If the idea was to dry up defense funds, it backfired — badly.
The South Bend, Indiana, police sergeant who killed a man during a June 16 confrontation has had a GoFundMe page pulled by the online fundraising giant.
But it hasn’t stopped the money flowing in at all.
The case of Sgt. Ryan O’Neill and the shooting of an alleged car burglar has gotten attention nationally – since it took place in the hometown of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Buttigieg has been widely criticized for his reaction to the shooting, including blaming his own police department.
O’Neill is white. The man he shot, Eric Logan, was black.
But it got even more attention this week when, according to WBND, a fundraising effort for O’Neill’s defense was closed by GoFundMe and forced to move to a new site because it “it violated the terms and conditions” for GoFundMe users.
GoFundMe terms and conditions state it cannot be used to raise money “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.”
The Western Journal has reached out to GoFundMe for comment but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.
(UPDATE: A spokesman for GoFundMe contacted The Western Journal late Friday afternoon to clarify its position:
“We can confirm the campaign violated GoFundMe’s terms of service,” the statement said.
“You’re not permitted to raise money for legal defense where an individual has been killed. The campaign specifically stated it was for legal defense. This was not removed for hate.”)
Harvey Mills, president of the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police, issued a statement expressing disgust with the GoFundMe decision, according to the South Bend Tribune.
“Shockingly, GoFundMe told us that they cancelled the campaign because it was in support of a hate crime,” the statement said. “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.”
The controversy might not have hurt the fundraising effort, however.
Before GoFundMe closed down the endeavor, it had raised about $5,000, according to the Tribune.
After a new page, “Help Defend Officer Ryan O’Neill,” was set up on Fundly.com, it had raised almost $75,000 by Friday afternoon.
In a statement on the Fundly page, O’Neill thanked his supporters and noted how national politics had come into play.
“Like so many American families, ours is focused on loving each other and working hard,” the statement said. “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.”
A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate the shooting.
And the family of the slain man has filed a lawsuit against O’Neill alleging “excessive deadly force,” according to The Indy Star.
For GoFundMe, according to O’Neill’s supporters, that was apparently enough to cut off fundraising efforts for the sergeant.
Fortunately for O’Neill and his family, that doesn’t seem to have hurt them at all.
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