Crowdfunder campaigns for Tarrio and different proud boys to share the hope in Jesus.
(RNS) – Since the arrest of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio on Monday (Jan. 4) in connection with the destruction of a Church’s Black Lives Matter sign in Washington, DC late last year, more than 100,000 U.S. Dollars for his legal defense raised the self-described Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo.
Tarrio’s isn’t the only campaign hosted on GiveSendGo for people identified as members of the far-right Proud Boys. The organization’s president, Donald Trump, said he should “stand by and stand by” during his first presidential debate against now-elected President Joe Biden.
People used GiveSendGo to raise nearly $ 5,000 in fundraising campaigns for the Proud Boys in central Texas and central Washington. “Our state is being attacked by open and covert communist groups like Antifa and BLM,” said the campaign page in central Texas. “They have billionaire donors and left-wing politicians who are helping fund their destruction. We have YOU to prevent this from happening! “
CONNECTED: ‘Proud Boys’ burn Black Lives Matter signs in churches in Washington
There are also GiveSendGo campaigns for people and groups who want to take part in the Stop the Steal marches held in DC on Wednesday to protest the validity of the 2020 presidential election results. Others are rallying to directly expose suspected election fraud, including at least two in support of Mellissa Carone, who stood alongside Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani at an election fraud hearing in Michigan.
GiveSendGo, criticized for hosting a legal defense fundraiser in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August and shooting suspect Kyle Rittenhouse, describes itself as the “No. 1 of Free Christian Crowdfunding Websites ”and has categories for campaigns that include“ Mission ”and“ Medical ”,“ Memorial ”and“ Church ”among others.
Heather Wilson, who founded GiveSendGo with her brother Jacob Wells, admitted that her website has more campaigns that tilt to the right – often all the way to the right – than to the left. She believes this is due to censorship at other crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.
“GoFundMe has decided that certain campaigns will not be allowed,” Wilson told the Religion News Service. “Guess who gets the setback for the campaigns that are not allowed on GoFundMe. You come to us now. “
Wilson and Wells insist that running a campaign does not mean endorsing it. “You don’t think so
When you post on Twitter, Twitter kind of agrees with everything you say, ”Wells told RNS. Like Twitter or Facebook, GiveSendGo is “just a place where people can express their opinions and personal ideas about things. “
The siblings are passionate about First Amendment rights and people’s right to raise money for legal defense regardless of the type of crime. You will not turn people away on either side, they said, even if they disagree with a campaign.
“It is not our job to take a stand or take sides,” said Wilson. “We do not support campaigns, we do not share campaigns, and we do not submit campaigns. We only allow freedom. “
Tarrio’s GiveSendGo campaign page features a photo of him wearing the Proud Boys black and yellow colors and holding both hands above his head with forefinger and thumb touching. This is a sign that is now commonly associated with white supremacy. “I was arrested on January 4th, 2021 in Washington DC. This fund was set up to finance my legal defense and counterclaim against the city of Washington DC,” the page says.
The campaign quickly surpassed its $ 100,000 target and had more than 2,000 donors as of Tuesday night.
Tarrio was charged with property destruction in connection with a crime on December 12, 2020, according to a statement from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department sent to RNS on Monday. The crime was set to take place in the same block as Asbury United Methodist Church, whose BLM mark was among many destroyed during the December riots following a pro-Trump rally in the National Mall.
“At the time of his arrest, (Tarrio) had two high capacity firearm magazines. He was also charged with owning a high-capacity feeding device, ”the MPD statement said.
CONNECTED: Historic DC Black Church is suing proud boys for destroying the Black Lives Matter mark
Metropolitan AME, a historic Washington black community, is suing the Proud Boys, claiming members of the group destroyed the church’s Black Lives Matter sign when thousands of Trump supporters came to the nation’s capital to protest Biden’s victory. The city is preparing to continue the protest on Wednesday. Some churches are demanding police protection.
Both Wilson and Wells said they do not support groups like the Proud Boys and “do not condone illegal behavior”.
They see their location as a model for Jesus’ behavior in the Gospels.
“Jesus was ridiculed by religious law, by the Pharisees, by the legalist for hanging out with drunkards and sinners,” said Wilson. “And we look at that and say, OK, if we have a platform where quote-unquotation, drunkards and sinners appear – what an opportunity for us to actually share the hope of Jesus.”
The website offers donors and supporters the opportunity to send “prayers” for the campaigns, and Wilson said they are trying to engage actively with their donor community – by sending prayers and Bible verses via email. GiveSendGo promises to return 10% of its donations to other active campaigns on the site every month.
CONNECTED: Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo is defending its decision to run a campaign for Kyle Rittenhouse
The campaign for Rittenhouse, who pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, has now raised more than $ 585,000.
The Illinois teenager is charged with first degree murder and a number of attempted murders. He is also accused of ruthlessly endangering two other victims and owning a gun while under the age of 18.
The shootings took place in Kenosha in August during protests demanding justice for the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by Kenosha police. The officer who shot Blake will not be charged on Tuesday, according to an announcement from Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley.
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