As rioting, looting, and other acts of violence continue to increase in places like Kenosha, Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon, a charitable bail organization chatted up by Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris is catching all sorts of flack.
Aside from Harris, the Minnesota Freedom Fund has managed to attract the attention of major celebrity donors like Rob Delaney, Seth Rogen, Steve Carrell, Cynthia Nixon, and even War Machine himself, Don Cheadle. The mission of the group is to raise funds for demonstrators arrested in Minneapolis during the May riots that rocked the city following the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Here’s more on this via The Washington Examiner:
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 1, 2020
Harris tweeted in favor of the bail fund on June 1, two-and-a-half months before she was tapped for the Democratic ticket with Biden, a two-term vice president and 36-year Delaware senator. Her advocacy of the bail fund has the potential to play into President Trump’s “soft on crime” charge against the Biden ticket. Harris, in pushing the bail fund, implicity brings her expertise from a career in law enforcement, including six years as California attorney general and seven years as San Francisco district attorney.
The MFF raised $35 million in the wake of the riots. But by early August, Minneapolis’ Fox 9 reported that the fund bailed out defendants from Twin Cities jails charged with murder, violent felonies, and sex crimes.
At the height of MFF’s popularity, contributions to MFF jumped from $1,000 daily to $100,000. Suspects who were released as a result of the fund providing bail included a gunman who shot at police during the May riots, a woman accused of killing a friend, and a twice-convicted rapist.
“I often don’t even look at a charge when I bail someone out,” MFF’s Greg Lewin replied after he was asked about bailing out these individuals. “I will see it after I pay the bill because it is not the point. The point is the system we are fighting.”
According to Jeff Clayton from the American Bail Coalition, there weren’t that many peaceful protesters that needed the MFF to provide bail funding for them.
“They don’t report publicly who they bail out. In other words, there’s really no way to find out unless you go case by case, pull the files to find out if this bail fund posted the bail for these defendants and what we found out … essentially, they were not bailing out peaceful protesters, really at all,” Clayton said.
“The peaceful protesters that were arrested and that were assigned bail was probably around 10. In the first couple of weeks, the bails were $78 or $100 in most cases,” Clayton continued.
Unfortunately, MFF isn’t the only such charitable organization like this in the country to engage in this sort of activity. A number of these groups around America have managed to scrape together $90 million. Clayton said that other than the state of New York, no other state in the country regulates these charitable bail funds.
“New York limited the size of the bonds to $2,000 or less — to make it for low-level cases, which is what it was intended for originally and they have to disclose where they get the money and who they bailed out and what the results were,” he explained.
Clayton also noted that funds from these groups are also used to help with immigration cases.