GoFundMe’s practices violate the right to protest

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Province of British Columbia | Flickr

Dani Heba, Copy Editor

GoFundMe, the website known for hosting fundraisers, is rightfully under fire for preventing donations to the Freedom Convoy, a group of Canadian truckers protesting COVID-19 mandates and calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s resignation.

The truckers raised roughly $10 million for their cause before GoFundMe announced it would halt fundraisers, claiming the campaign “condoned violence,” and said it would instead donate the funds to other charities if donors didn’t request a refund by Feb. 19.

In response to the backlash, GoFundMe, which should be better known as GoFraudMe, agreed to automatically issue refunds to all donors. However, this isn’t enough to stop investigations into their practices.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating potential violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“GoFundMe’s response to an anti-mandate, pro-liberty movement should ring alarm bells to anyone using the donation platform and, more broadly, and American wanting to protect their constitutional rights,” Paxton’s statement read.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shares this sentiment, claiming he will direct Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to investigate these claims as well.

“It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing,” DeSantis tweeted.

Paxton and DeSantis are right: any American, or for a matter of fact, any person who believes in the western values of liberty and freedom to assemble should be appalled by how the truckers are being treated and how their actions are being portrayed.

The first cause of concern should be the Canadian government and GoFundMe’s portrayal of the protests. In its reasoning in barring the protests, the company alleged that they have received “police reports of violence.”

Additionally, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson requested 1,800 additional officers to help “quell the insurrection,” using the same buzzword that draws the comparison to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

But what violence is GoFundMe talking about? The truckers are of course participating in a blockade, most notably the one blocking the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit with Canada. They are also blocking roads in Ottawa, honking their horns and even reportedly setting off fireworks.

These actions can certainly be considered disruptive. That’s the whole point, after all: to be disruptive to draw attention to the authoritarian mandates. However, there is not yet evidence of physical violence, which would involve using force to hurt somebody.

And what “insurrection” is Watson talking about? An insurrection is defined by Merriam- Webster as a “usually violent attempt to take control of a government.”

The protests aren’t violent. And they certainly aren’t an attempt to take over the Canadian government. People are protesting simply to demand the government protect their right to make a decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and to overturn its policy.

By allowing government officials and big tech companies like GoFundMe to distort events and the meaning of words, society will see its freedoms take a drastic hit in the name of safety.

Engaging in civil disobedience, which has been necessary in countries all over the world to achieve liberty throughout history, can now be construed as violence and be squashed if we let GoFundMe and the government off the hook.

It is already being seen as Canadian police are making arrests at the Ambassador Bridge, following the green light from a Canadian judge to do so. Protestors face fines of up to CAD $100,000 or roughly $78,800 USD, and a year in jail.

Thankfully, other organizations such as GiveSendGo and Adopt-a-Trucker have stepped up to the plate. Since GoFundMe froze donations, GiveSendGo has raised almost $9 million for the truckers and Adopt-a-Trucker has raised over half a million dollars for them.

Western ideals of liberty will go down the drain if citizens allow governments and big tech to overstep their boundaries and misconstrue events. People must call out the nonsense and resist authoritarianism where it brews.