GoFundMe Cuts Off Funds for Canada's 'Freedom Convoy,' Gov. DeSantis Vows to Investigate
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The crowdfunding website, GoFundMe, says it's withholding millions of dollars that were donated to Canadian truckers who are participating in the "Freedom Convoy."
The truckers and other protesters opposing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for cross-border travel, drove across the country to the nation's capital of Ottawa last month.
Those taking part in the convoy embarked on their journey through British Columbia shortly after the vaccine mandate took effect on Jan. 15, which requires truckers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The truckers have gained support from people all over the world for their desire to stand up for freedom of choice. The GoFundMe account was set up by convoy organizers and raised millions of dollars that were intended to be dispersed among the truckers to help cover the cost of their trip.
In a statement on Friday, GoFundMe said the demonstrations were peaceful when the fundraiser first started, but evidence from law enforcement showed that protesters took part in acts of violence and harassment.
"We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity," GoFundMe said in a statement. "Organizers provided a clear distribution plan for the initial $1M that was released earlier this week and confirmed funds would be used only for participants who traveled to Ottawa to participate in a peaceful protest. Given how this situation has evolved, no further funds will be directly distributed to the Freedom Convoy organizers."
At first, donors were advised to fill out a refund form in order to get their money back and that funds not returned to donors would be given to a charity chosen by the Freedom Convoy.
Then GoFundMe reversed course on Saturday, announcing that it would be refunding donors automatically. The platform claims the procedural change was "due to donor feedback" however threats of a possible fraud investigation by the state of Florida may have prompted the backtrack.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) tweeted that he planned to "investigate" the company and its fraudulent activity.
It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 5, 2022
I will work with @AGAshleyMoody to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund.
Meanwhile, some American truckers are following Canada's lead by organizing a protest against President Biden's vaccine mandate.
Fox News reports that the group, "Convoy to D.C. 2022," was created on Facebook as a place for truckers to discuss and plan the upcoming voyage from California to Washington, D.C. Organizers discovered on Wednesday that Facebook had removed the group's page.
One group organizer, Jeremy Johnson, told Fox News that his Facebook page was completely removed.
"They like to silence people that speak the truth," Johnson said.
A spokesperson for Facebook's parent company, Meta, said in a statement to Fox News, "We have removed this group for repeatedly violating our policies around QAnon."
Brian Brase, another organizer of the event, called out Facebook for the way it's characterizing the group.
"They literally wiped Mike Landis and Jeremy completely out of Facebook," Brase said. "They don't even have a profile anymore, so how are you supposed to request a review or remove anything?"
The group says its hope is to eliminate vaccine mandates through peaceful protests.
"The government needs to really take a look at what the American people want," Johnson said. "And they don't want mandates."
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