Minnesota Freedom Fund Reveals Only $200,000 of Millions in Donations Has Been Spent to Bail Out Protesters

The Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) faced a social media backlash after it revealed on Twitter that it has spent around $200,000 to bail out protesters—despite receiving millions in donations in recent weeks.

"Appreciate all those calling for transparency. We see y'all. Our values and mission have not changed since 2016. Be on the lookout for things coming on our end. Be well," the nonprofit, which works to bail out those who couldn't otherwise afford it, posted on Twitter.

"Without jeopardizing the safety of the folks we bailed out we paid well over $200k in the weeks since the uprising alone. We are working on doing more."

The tweet sparked an outcry with critics calling out MFF for not using more of the funds to bail out protesters who were arrested during demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Many said that MFF had collected $35 million in donations in recent weeks and spent only a small fraction, prompting "35 MILLION" and "only 200k" to start trending on Twitter.

Newsweek subscription offers >

It's not clear exactly how much the fund has raised since protests began, but on the Frequently Asked Questions section of the MFF website, updated earlier this month, it said that more than $30 million had been donated to the fund in the wake of Floyd's death.

Tens of thousands of people from all over the world donated and called on others to do so, including celebrities such as Jameela Jamil and Seth Rogen, in a bid to help bail out protesters taken into police custody amid demonstrations against police brutality.

On its website, MFF wrote: "We know that many people have donated to us to support those protesting George Floyd's murder and generations of police violence. We will prioritize posting bail for those arrested demanding justice for George Floyd."

It added that until recently, MFF was a "small" fund that paid out a maximum of $1,000 in the course of a "normal" day. "We're adapting quickly to handle the volume and scale of the current need," it added.

"And we're working in partnership with legal aid organizations to get anyone with a cash bail who was arrested protesting for George Floyd out as quickly as possible."

But Twitter users slammed the MFF for not directing funds to bail out protesters faster.

Roxane Gay responded to MFF's tweet, writing: "This is pretty pithy for an organization with $35 million, like you're just talking to your little friends. Get thee a crisis communication expert ASAP."

"This white run organization allegedly collected $35 million, and only used $200k to actually bail out protesters," Tariq Nasheed added. "Those of us in the real Black grassroots have been getting folks out of jail on our own. This is why we have to stop the coopt."

Others defended the fund, saying it was likely having trouble scaling up its operation.

"I feel like everyone yelling at the minnesota freedom fund for only using 200k so far of the 35 MILLION dollars it raised doesnt understand how hard it is to efficiently spend, manage, and account for that kind of money when youre clearly not set up to work on that scale," Kath Barbadoro wrote.

"Maybe theyre scammers but it's also likely they have never had to manage more than like 1/100th that amount of money at once."

Max Burns added: "I've worked with organizations that have overseen large-scale bail out campaigns. It is sadly common to see city agencies make the bail process harder for an org with momentum & money behind it, like@MNFreedomFund. Lots of ways to slow up money flowing out of a bail fund."

More than 10,000 people were arrested in the first 10 days of demonstrations decrying police brutality across the nation sparked by Floyd's death, according to an Associated Press tally.

That number will have grown significantly in the weeks since as protests have continued, calling for police departments across the country to be defunded.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund has been contacted for comment.

George
Hundreds of people pack into Columbus Circle to hear speeches against police violence while one of them holds a painted portrait of George Floyd in New York City on June 14, 2020. Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images
Minnesota Freedom Fund Reveals Only $200,000 of Millions in Donations Has Been Spent to Bail Out Protesters | U.S.