Image by Bruce Emmerling from Pixabay

The Minnesota Freedom Fund is receiving backlash over its usage of donation money, with many questioning where the money is going. 

By now, it’s all too evident how social media can make or break an individual or organization. Weeks ago, as the protests in reaction to George Floyd’s death gained traction, so too did calls for donations to organizations like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, the Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block. The collective action paid off, raising the MFF over $30 million. But on Monday, representatives of the fund announced that they’ve contributed more than $200,000 to bail payments, leading many to question what is happening to the rest of the money.

Many have turned on the organization online, expressing disappointment and confusion. Yet amidst this backlash, it’s important to recognize the capabilities of local organizations and how to best support their work, especially when it’s most needed. 

At the start of June, the MFF had one full-time employee. Now it’s an organization with millions of dollars to its name; naturally, the transition from being a small-scale local nonprofit to a virtually internationally recognized one would pose significant challenges.

What happened?

At the start of June, the MFF had one full-time employee. Now it’s an organization with millions of dollars to its name; naturally, the transition from being a small-scale local nonprofit to a virtually internationally recognized one would pose significant challenges.

In an interview with the New York Times, Octavia Smith, board president of the MFF, said, “Our capacity is definitely taxed.” 

In response to questions about where the money is going, the MFF stated on Twitter that the money is to pay bail and support protestors, but also, that they can aim higher with the influx of money they received. “To say again: we are paying, and have paid, all protest bail that’s come our way. There are a lot more people in jail on bail. Now, we can help on a scale impossible last month. We want to spend this money down to get people out of cages (ICE too) and we want to do it right.”

 “Being at the reins of an organization getting this level of attention and resources is a different ballgame… That includes public scrutiny. People should be mad, stay mad, stay impatient for change. I’m not sure we’re the perfect vehicle for that impatience but we get it,” Greg Lewin, Smith’s predecessor said.

“The left is exceedingly good at eating its own,” he added.

In light of the news of the Minnesota Freedom Fund’s allocation, an open letter to Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block emerged online, written by local activists and community organizers, demanding that the nonprofits be more transparent. 

But the authors recognize that attacking organizations wanting to help would be a waste of time and effort. The letter concludes, “As organizers, activists, and members of this community, we all have the same ultimate goal and cannot afford to be divided in our attempts to reach it. There are too many forces already against us for there to also be distrust, misgivings, and gatekeeping in an already retraumatizing and critical time for liberation.”

Read also: Support For Community Bail Funds Demonstrates Need To Abolish Cash Bail

Candy Chan

Candy Chan is studying History with a focus on War and Revolution at Barnard College. She is currently a staff writer at the Columbia Daily Spectator, covering issues pertaining to Columbia's...