Have We Entered the Era of Crowdsourced Hate-Funding?

The legal defense funds for George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson and Daniel Holtzclaw are fascinating and alarming.


Lynching rose to prominence in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably in the Deep South during the dawn of Reconstruction. Lynching was extra-judicial, vigilante action used to intimidate African Americans — and sometimes sympathetic whites — to enforce racist Jim Crow law. Individuals who participated in lynch mobs were seldom convicted in a court of law, even if properly identified, meaning perpetrators were safe, generally anonymous, and rarely held accountable for their actions.

Perhaps more disgustingly, lynching was a public spectacle, often treated as a family-friendly community event. It was not uncommon for children to be brought to the sight of lynchings, as a victim’s body hung lifelessly from a tree. So agreeable were whites to the racial violence of lynching, many took photos gathered around the victim, united as one for the cause of a dead black man.

While lynching has occurred less frequently since the Civil Rights Movement, its legacy remains present in the modern era; the noose remains symbolic, and makes regular appearances at many universities. The mob mentality persists as well, now in the form of the digital campaign, where individual donors unite as one.

In the wake of the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and allegations of first-degree rape and sexual battery of eight black women, lucrative crowdsourcing fundraisers were established for George Zimmerman, officer Darren Wilson and officer Daniel Holtzclaw, respectively.

No doubt members of the public are entitled to support who and what they please, but given the nature of the alleged crimes (the murders of unarmed children and the abuse of power to perpetrate sexual assault against women), the sizable amounts of money raised in these fundraisers are simultaneously alarming and fascinating.

Perhaps there is no greater example of putting one’s money where his or her mouth is, a new kind of financial investment that goes far beyond political donations: Let’s call it hate-funding.

Arguably in the case of Zimmerman, the flood of proceeds made sense in supporting his legal defense, though his PayPal account was created in advance of him being charged with any crime. He made the account himself, and raised over $400,000. CBS News reported that Zimmerman was able to raise $77,000 in a week’s time. For killing a black boy.

In the case of Wilson, however, the lynch mob mentality is easiest to see. Two fundraisers had been erected in Wilson’s name, despite the fact that he has released no statement on the shooting death of Mike Brown, did not complete his own incident report, has virtually disappeared, and remains on paid leave without being charged for any crime. (Charges, incidentally, look less likely as time goes by.) Two fundraisers have collectively raised over $400,000; the folks at Salon have done a masterful job in summing up the racism that littered the donation page; one user identified as “Jim Crow.”

Holtzclaw’s case is more of the same, though it has yet to dominate the news cycle the way the others have. Holtzclaw’s alleged crimes were perpetrated against eight different black women, and despite statements from Oklahoma police which indicate that there could be more victims that remain unidentified, Holtzclaw’s now-inactive GoFundMe page raised a little over $7,300 from almost 40 donors, according to The Washington Times.

Campaigns like this make celebrities out of alleged murders and alleged rapists: Supporters mass-produce t-shirts and sell them curbside as though they were standing outside of concert venues. The victims, unarmed and killed for being black in the wrong place, space, time, and manner, are extinguished, their deaths something that others celebrate, encourage, look beyond.

And fund.

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  • Joseph

    Oh pull-eeze. Going back a hundred years and talking about lynching. However, in the cases of Zimmerman and Officer Wilson, there has been a “lynching” (so to speak) by the liberal press in America, who practically proclaimed them as murderers of Obama’s foster sons. (Quote, “If I had a son…”). A defense fund was needed. Also, stop calling it “the murder of unarmed children!” Martin and Brown were huge, fully-grown thugs, who were armed with their fists.

    • pete

      …and until the author of this absolutely ridiculous piece knows exactly what happened between Brown and Wilson she should not even place it in the same article.

    • Aggie95

      and odds are when a black man was lynched it was a democrat tugging on the rope

    • bawsism

      lol @ “armed with their fists”. but who needs facts when you can deploy every readymade cliche in the bigot’s handbook?

      • Joseph

        LOL yourself! You can be “armed” several different ways. Firearms is just one. If someone comes at you, swinging a baseball bat at you, would he be “unarmed?” Apparently, you would just “take it like a man!” I however, would defend myself. But who needs facts when you can deploy every readymade slur in the idiot’s handbook?

  • DW

    This is the type of race-baiting typically saved for philly.com! More trash here. By the way – love how the “writer” points out that Wilson is still on paid leave, as if that means he is living the good life….he had to go into hiding and will likely never be able to work again thanks to people like you who found him guilty before any FACTUAL evidence came out. Get a life.

    • Ed

      So DW, If you like any of these people that are crowd funding these people feel that the evidence hasn’t come out yet, why would you start funding this person? If you truly believe in justice, you wouldn’t pick a side before you saw the facts. Right?

      • You don’t wait until the lynching is complete before investigating the best you can and if you see that injustice is possibly taking place, you speak out against it and support the victim of it. In both the Zimmerman and the Wilson cases there is ample evidence available to justify doubting the mob’s reaction and to fight against it.

  • George Linard

    Another biased article full of the authors own personal prejudice and subjective views about race.

  • Ed

    I think this article could have been written a little better. These are totally racist crowd funding campaigns. Calling a spade a spade in America is no longer the norm. This article failed to point out that the same people crowding funding these campaigns claim to be for justice. Now how can you pick a side when you don’t know the facts? These people don’t truly know Wilson nor Brown. So what are they basing their decision on? Mike Brown and Trayvon are dead and they can’t speak. But what if (50 years from now) when George Zimmerman or Wilson is on their death bed and they start to confess that everything they said wasn’t true and that they murder these people (members of the KKK did it all the time). Then what? America never apologize for the present, America will apologize for the past. Even if we know something is wrong we always trick ourselves into believing it’s right during the present time (Slavery, Indian Scalping, Lynching). Only after the masses has stated that it was wrong will most people finally admit that it was wrong and not they were wrong. We as Americans are stubborn and just too naive admit it.

    • “These are totally racist crowd funding campaigns.”

      If anything they are reactions to the racist attacks against these men.

      “…how can you pick a side when you don’t know the facts?”

      In Zimmerman’s case we and the jury now know the facts and Zimmerman was found not guilty of the charges against him. It verifies what those who studied the evidence that was available before the trail concluded, that Zimmerman was being racial persecuted and was deserving of our support.

  • Everyone deserves the right to a fair trial, unless Maya thinks they’re guilty, then it’s “crowd sourced hate-funding.”

    Pretty low, even by her standards.

  • James

    The author knows white people are harmless, even wimps.
    She’s a neoMarxist black power revolutionary who wants to stir up blacks to violence and hate against whites.

  • I had often wondered how lynching came to take place,the pyschological origins of it, until I saw the reactions to Zimmerman and Wilson, now I wonder no longer. It is fascinating though, that those who bemoan the most over historical lynching are on the forefront of advocating for it today.

  • “CBS News reported that Zimmerman was able to raise $77,000 in a week’s time. For killing a black boy.”

    If the author had an iota of integrity she would retract this despicable assertion.