- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 3, 2015

GoFundMe removed a crowdfunding campaign on behalf of jailed Baltimore rioters Sunday, a day after conservatives began complaining about the effort.

Greg Scott, vice president of media communications for Alliance Defending Freedom, said he first contacted the company Saturday about the rioters’ crowdfunding campaign. His Twitter posts decrying the campaign were picked up by conservative radio talk-show host Dana Loesch and Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft.

“We first started poking GFM yesterday by contacting the site directly and then via a series of tweets,” Mr. Scott said in a Sunday email. “The purpose has really been to either expose the hypocrisy of GFM for blocking campaigns for our clients or to see if they stay consistent.”

ADF attorneys represent Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, whose crowdfunding campaign was removed a week ago by GoFundMe after complaints from gay-marriage advocates. Ms. Stutzman is facing a civil damages award for refusing to provide services for a same-sex wedding.

GoFundMe also removed the campaign on behalf of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, whose owners Aaron and Melissa Klein are looking at a proposed $135,000 damages award for declining to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

“We do respect the right of GFM to set their own term and conditions, but buckling to people like those who are trying to utterly obliterate Barronelle Stutzman and Aaron and Melissa Klein for merely having different beliefs is appalling,” said Mr. Scott.

The “Baltimore Protesters Bail Bond Fund” campaign had collected $8,539 from 335 supporters as of early Sunday after being posted Thursday. In the past, GoFundMe has allowed campaigns to keep the money raised after removing those that violate the website’s policies.

“Multiple people who participated in the #BaltimoreRiots are being held on excessively HIGH bails,” said the campaign description. “The #MediablackoutUSA team has created this GoFundMe account to help raise money for these protesters. Hopefully with your help we can reach our goal.”

The campaign has been far more successful than the one launched Friday by the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, which was removed by GoFundMe in less than an hour. In a statement, a spokeswoman cited GoFundMe’s policy against crowdfunding in defense of “formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.”

The Baltimore protesters’ fund was helping raise money to pay the bail of three protesters charged with crimes — Allen Bullock, Antonio Jackson and Roselyn Michelle Roberts.

“Allen Bullock, the 18-year-old pictured smashing a police car with a traffic cone, in one of the defining images of the Baltimore riots, is being held on $500,000 bail and may face years in jail, The Guardian reports,” said the campaign page. “The teenager was charged with eight criminal counts, including rioting and malicious destruction of property.”

Roselyn Michelle Roberts, 43, was charged with two charges of fourth-degree theft and burglary, and is being held on $100,000 bail, according to the campaign, citing Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The Baltimore police union is searching for another fundraising venue, but until then, organizers asking donors to send contributions to the Baltimore FOP Lodge #3.

The bail-bond campaign had raised twice as much as a campaign posted by Gi Sun, “Baltimore riots destroyed my store,” who had raised $4,517 from 47 donors as of early Sunday after being posted Tuesday.

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