Campaigners mount challenge to GoFundMe for ‘alt-right’ speaker tour

Nathanael Williams

Pro-Trump figure at centre of battle between funding sites

GOFUNDME has come under fire for supporting the funding of the ‘alt-right’ speaker Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking tour of various US colleges.

Now a petition demanding an end of its crowdfunding operation has gained nearly 20,000 signatures, from those who feel that the pro-Trump speaker is a threat to the safety of women, Muslims and other ethnic minority groups.

Yiannopoulos who has made a career attacking communities of colour in the US has on numerous occasions broken the GoFundMe page’s own user service policy.

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The author of the Care2 petition Kailey L, calling for all funding pages associated with Yiannopoulos to be withdrawn, said: “GoFundMe’s user service policy prohibits “the promotion of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.”

“Most of the GoFundMe campaigns for Yiannopoulos are from students seeking to bring the troll to campus and cover security fees.

“The words of Yiannopoulos incite violence and threaten the safety of women, people of colour, trans people, and more. We want to encourage Pfeiffer to empathise with victims of Yiannopoulos’ rhetoric and to ensure GoFundMe’s support for him stops.”

“The words of Yiannopoulos incite violence and threaten the safety of women, people of colour, trans people, and more.” Kailey L

Care2 petition is asking GoFundMe’s Vice President of Communications, former senior advisor to former President Barack Obama, Dan Pfeiffer, to ensure the site stops hosting campaigns to raise funds for notorious alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos.

Yiannopoulos had previously engaged in controversial and offensive behaviour which campaigners say breached the terms of service on GoFundMe. He was banned by Twitter after his online targetting of African American Saturday Night Live actor Leslie Jones was followed by a racist harassment campaign against her.

Campaigners point to recent events surrounding the controversial “professional troll”. CommonSpace reported last week that a man was shot protesting at his appearance at the University of Washington on January 20.

GoFundMe is currently hosting multiple fundraising campaigns to bring Yiannopoulos to various US college campuses to speak.

Many of the fundraisers are for speaking appearances Yiannopoulos has already completed, but in total the site has helped these groups to raise over $13,000 to bring him to campuses. GoFundMe takes five per cent of the monies raised from all fundraisers.

Yiannopoulos is accused by critics of being a major contributor to a growing atmosphere of intolerance in US society and politics, fostering policies such as the now infamous Muslim ban which has seen the detention of refugees and protests at every airport in America, after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens from seven majority Muslim nations from entering the country.

Yiannopoulos is unapologetic about his statements mocking ideas about human equality, claiming he is defending western civilisation from decline. 

The British-born, US-based writer is also technology editor of Breitbart media, a far right platform accused of giving editorial shelter to fascist and white nationalist opinions. Breitbart is owned by Steve Bannon, the chief strategist for Trump’s administration, thought by many to be the ideological and intellectual driver behind many of the new president’s policies.

Following the burning down of a church in Texas and the shooting and killing of six at a mosque in Quebec, campaigners fear far right rhetoric is becoming a license for racist action.

When contacted by CommonSpace, John Coventry, head of UK communications said: “We don’t agree with or support Mr. Yiannopoulos. Campaigns created by students to cover specific costs, like security, for an event do not violate our terms.” According to GoFundMe, the pages were not in direct support of Yiannopoulos. There was no clarification on whether the pages would be taken down in the future.


Picture courtesy of YouTube

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