GoFundMe Threatens to Sue Civil Rights Organization ColorOfChange.org


Fifty-one days ago, trigger-happy Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in the middle of the street. Since Brown’s killing, protests have taken place throughout Ferguson and surrounding areas. 


But over the last 51 days, Wilson has also received tons of financial support, and more than $400,000 was raised through a now-defunct GoFundMe page and several others created in support of Wilson. That amount topped the amount raised for Brown’s family in a matter of days.

As the GoFundMe pages for Wilson received more donations, some people wanted to know exactly whose side GoFundMe was on. They wanted to know why would the site allow donations for a man who shot a kid with his hands up in the air?

Civil rights group ColorOfChange.org was at the forefront when it came to speaking out against the donation site. According to the civil rights group, it was trying to address the seeming contradiction between the Wilson donations and the guidelines outlined in the site’s terms of service, which forbid “items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance, or the financial exploitation of a crime.” The organization wanted to ensure that those who perpetuate racially motivated violence could not profit from it.

Unfortunately, GoFundMe sees it differently and is threatening to sue the organization. From a ColorOfChange.org press release:

But then last week GoFundMe’s lawyers sent us a Cease and Desist letter, threatening the ColorOfChange community and the movement for racial justice we’re working to build together.

We’ve been talking to our legal team and they confirm that ColorOfChange—as a civil rights organization—has right to publicly criticize any corporation. GoFundMe can’t take that away from us. Our lawyers say that this Cease and Desist letter is a scare tactic meant to silence us and squash our campaigns.

The thing is we don’t scare that easily and we’re not going to fold. Our work is about elevating the voices of Black folks and our allies. Right now, this work is more important than ever. So we need to push back against GoFundMe’s threat and show our strength.

Chip in $5 to defend the ColorOfChange community from corporate attacks. We’ve already had to divert time and valuable resources to address this baseless legal threat from GoFundMe, with probably more to come. Give us the resources we need to strengthen our hand.

Our campaign targeting GoFundMe began when people started giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Michael Brown’s killer, celebrating his death. We were disgusted and outraged.

But now this campaign is about so much more. It’s about our broken justice system that moves swiftly when a Black person is accused, but at a snail's pace when it’s a white police officer. For example, the Darren Wilson grand jury just got a 60-day extension and now has until early January to decide whether or not to bring charges.

As someone who donated to Mike Brown’s GoFundMe page, I wasn’t shocked that so many other people flocked to Wilson’s page to show their support. But it’s shocking to find out that GoFundMe is now threatening to sue ColorOfChange.org because it had the guts to speak out against the company’s practices. 

Wilson, who is still on a paid vacation, could receive more than $400,000 for killing an unarmed black teen thanks to GoFundMe. Now, that’s some good ole white privilege for you.