George Floyd Killing: Minnesota Freedom Fund Is Bailing Out Protesters - Rolling Stone
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George Floyd Killing: How to Help Minneapolis Protesters

The local fund has received support from across the country, and is helping raise bail for those arrested during protests

Protestors demonstrate outside of a burning fast food restaurant, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight nightPolice Death, Minneapolis, United States - 29 May 2020
Demonstrators join hands, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night
Minneapolis Police Death, St. Paul, United States - 28 May 2020
Protesters set off fireworks as a fire burns at the Minneapolis police 3rd Precinct building, in Minneapolis. Violent protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night
Police Death, Minneapolis, United States - 28 May 2020
London Slaughter holds a placard during a protest outside the state Capitol in Denver, over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis. Close to 1,000 protesters walked from the Capitol down the 16th Street pedestrian mall during the protest
Minneapolis Police Death Protest, Denver, United States - 28 May 2020
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Aubrey Rose, who earned the rank of staff sergeant while serving four tours of duty in the U.S. Army, carries a flag during a protest outside the State Capitol over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis, in Denver. Close to 1,000 protesters walked from the Capitol down the 16th Street pedestrian mall during the protest
Minneapolis Police Death Protest, Denver, United States - 28 May 2020

In the wake of the brutal death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man killed by a white police officer while in custody, people all over the country have united to protest police violence and call for charges to be brought against the police officers responsible for his death. Others have backed up social action with dollars, flocking to grassroots organizations in the state of Minnesota to support protesters on the ground.

One of these organizations is the Minnesota Freedom Fund, an abolitionist-focused group working toward ending cash bail in Minnesota and nationally. Over the past few days, a Twitter trend where people “match” donations to the fund has gone viral, generating tens of thousands of tweets thanks in part to celebrities like Rob Delaney and Lin Manuel Miranda boosting the organization. Others, like Seth Rogen and Steve Carell, simply tweeted “matched,” linking to other users’ calls to donate to the fund.

The national support has been “overwhelming,” says Tonja Honsey, the executive director of the Minnesota Freedom Fund. The fund is currently working with the National Lawyers Guild and Legal Rights Center to help reduce the burden of bail for protesters who’ve been arrested. Though she says she isn’t sure yet just how much money has been donated to the organization, she says that it has received tens of thousands of donations to the fund to bail out protesters.

Black brown and indigenous communities have been terrorized by the system and brutalized and murdered, and there has been no justice. Now we can see there is support coming from everywhere,” she tells Rolling Stone. The swell of support demonstrates that “there needs to be justice and there needs to be true change.”

On Monday night, Floyd was detained by police for alleged fraud. Bystander footage documenting the incident shows the officer impassively kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd desperately cries that he can’t breathe, causing him to lose consciousness. Officers later claimed that Floyd had been resisting arrest, though surveillance footage does not support this. The four officers involved with Floyd’s arrest have all been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, though charges have yet to be brought against any of them.

Since footage of Floyd’s murder went viral, Minneapolis/St. Paul has been wracked by protests. On Friday morning, a CNN crew covering the protests was also arrested live on air, though they were released an hour later. Coverage of the protests has been highly polarized, with many right-wing media outlets decrying looting and rioting in the city; President Donald Trump also weighed in on Twitter, stating, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” prompting Twitter to hide the tweet on the grounds that it promoted violence.

“There are some people who won’t agree with [the rioting] and thats fine, but this isn’t the first time this has happened in this community,” says Honsey. “There’s been a long line of state-sanctioned terrorism on communities and people have been waiting for justice for a long time and haven’t seen it.” She is directing those who wish to support protesters to black- and brown-led grassroots organizations such as Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block, and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar.  

“You can’t expect people to wait for change,” she says. “We’ve been waiting for change in the black brown and indigenous communities for years and years and have not seen it. And it’s time.”

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