GoFundMe has suspended a fundraiser for a cafe in Birmingham, Alabama, set up by African-American conservative commentator Candace Owens after she posted a viral video declaring that she does “not support George Floyd and the media depiction of him as a martyr for black America.”
The fundraising platform says it suspended the account because of Owens’ alleged “repeated pattern of inflammatory statements that spread hate, discrimination, intolerance and falsehoods against the black community at a time of profound national crisis.” The targeting of the campaign, Owens blasted back, is “a blatant form of discrimination.”
The Owens-GoFundMe conflict began with the leak of a private text from one of the owners of Parkside Cafe to two managers Friday which described George Floyd — the 46-year-old African-American man who died while a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck, sparking a wave of protests and riots — as a “thug” and protesters as “idiots” (formatting adjusted):
We should go up one or two dollars on everything until June 10th. Call it a protest tax because all the idiots that went to the protest are responsible for us not being able to open normal hours. Any employees that went or are still going should resign. Mr. Floyd was a thug, didn’t deserve to die but honoring a thug is irresponsible.
The owner later cited Owens’ viral video highlighting Floyd’s criminal record as part of the reason he concluded Floyd was a “thug.” In the video, Owens also criticized the African-American community for “demand[ing] support and justice for the people in our community that are up to no good”
The cafe apologized for the sentiments express in the private text, but that did not quell the mounting outraged directed against the cafe. In response, Owens created a GoFundMe on Saturday for Parkside titled “Mob rule has no place in America”:
This is the Parkside Café, a restaurant and bar in Birmingham, Alabama that is operated by a man named Michael Dykes. This week, Michael Dykes watched my video which garnered 100 million views in 42 hours, about the irresponsibility of the George Floyd protests and riots. Michael agreed with me and in frustration, wrote a private text to one of his colleagues about how destructive the protests were and how they are placing further burden on small business owners who are struggling to stay alive after the Coronavirus lockdowns — and now cannot open because of the riots. Michael also agreed with my sentiment that George Floyd did not deserve to die, but also, that he had a criminal record that was not worthy of the heroic characterizations the media is spinning today.
An employee of his decided to leak these private text messages, quit her job, and has now encouraged a mob of people to boycott the Parkside cafe. Local media is adding further fuel to the condemnation aby (sic) demanding he answer for his private text message exchange.
I AM SICK OF THE MOB RUINING PEOPLE’S LIVES. PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE DIFFERENT OPINIONS. The left specializes in mobs of hate and destruction. Let’s create a reciprocal movement of patriot love and support the Parkside cafe.
As reported by AL.com, within an hour, Owens’ campaign raised about $80,000 and raised a total of $205,000 before GoFundMe shut it down. “About 6,000 donors had contributed to the campaign as of 8 p.m. on Saturday, and it had more than 85,000 shares and a plethora of comments,” the outlet notes.
The fundraising platform provided the following statement on why it suspended the campaign:
GoFundMe has suspended the account associated with Candace Owens and the GoFundMe campaign has been removed because of a repeated pattern of inflammatory statements that spread hate, discrimination, intolerance and falsehoods against the black community at a time of profound national crisis. These actions violate our terms of service. Furthermore, the Parkside Cafe has clearly condemned the comments that initially led to this campaign.
While GoFundMe canceled the campaign, it has agreed to give the money already donated by the thousands of supporters to the cafe.
Owens took to Twitter on Sunday to call out GoFundMe for targeting the campaign:
After raising $205,000 in a few hours [GoFundMe] decided to halt my campaign for the Parkside Cafe in Alabama. At their discretion, they deemed that funds raised for a conservative business constitutes “intolerance.”
They WILL however give the funds raised thus far to the cafe.
While I am glad they will give the funds raised this far to the cafe to the owner, I am angry that such a blatant form of discrimination is acceptable by [GoFundMe]. There was NOTHING intolerant or violent about raising funds to help a conservative business owner.
In a follow-up post, Owens said GoFundMe’s actions follow a pattern of social media platforms targeting conservatives.
“Once again, conservatives and Trump supporters need to adapt to a world that tells us that our very existence is unacceptable,” she wrote. “That our ideas, thoughts, and now even our charitable efforts are unacceptable. That threatening, boycotting, and cancelling us is okay.”
While I am glad they will give the funds raised this far to the cafe to the owner, I am angry that such a blatant form of discrimination is acceptable by @gofundme. There was NOTHING intolerant or violent about raising funds to help a conservative business owner.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 7, 2020
Once again, conservatives and Trump supporters need to adapt to a world that tells us that our very existence is unacceptable. That our ideas, thoughts, and now even our charitable efforts are unacceptable. That threatening, boycotting, and cancelling us is okay.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 7, 2020
This article has been revised for clarity.
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