Online pages emerge in support of Ahmaud Arbery murder suspects
GoFundMe pages for Gregory and Travis McMichael, as well as a Facebook support group, follow history of white supremacists using the internet to lobby causes
When the white father and son involved in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23 in Brunswick, Georgia, were finally arrested Thursday, many around the world rejoiced at the thought of finally receiving the desired justice.
At the same time, white supremacists and supporters of the suspects around the country had a completely different reaction to begin fundraising for Gregory and Travis McMichael via multiple GoFundMe campaigns, and joining a Facebook Group titled “Justice For Gregory and Travis McMichael,” which saw its membership grow from under 10,000 to over 90,000 on Friday alone, with over 10,000 new posts.
Color of Change, a non-profit civil rights advocacy organization that is the nation’s largest online racial justice group, initially sounded the alarm on the GoFundMe pages, which the organization said at one point had sprouted in the dozens. The group provided theGrio with a number of screenshots of the pages.
History shows white supremacists and supporters of those who have killed innocent, unarmed Black Americans are quick to use new technology to help lobby their causes, as with the case of former New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo who killed Eric Garner in a deadly chokehold on Staten Island in 2014.
A GoFundMe campaign for the Pantaleo has raised nearly $180,000 as of this morning.
Just as they did with Pantaleo, white supremacists vaulted into action to also support the McMichaels, launching numerous GoFundMe campaigns to raise funds for the murderous racist duo that remain in jail.
Eventually, a majority of those fundraising pages were removed by GoFundMe. In a statement to theGrio, the company’s director of North America Communications Bobby Whithorne said, “I can confirm the campaigns violate GoFundMe’s terms of service and they have been removed from the platform.”
In a statement provided to theGrio, Scott Roberts, Color of Change Senior Director of Criminal Justice Campaigns, said: “When we noticed dozens of GoFundMe pages were started up to support the white supremacists who murdered Ahmaud Arbery in cold blood, we immediately took action to demand accountability from a company with core values of helping people.
“Color Of Change has a longstanding campaign to hold companies accountable for supporting and enabling white supremacist groups,” he added.
“This is a move towards justice, but there’s a long history of these kinds of campaigns being created to support the murderers of Black people including helping raise over $200,000 for the officer who killed Eric Garner last year. We need Rob Solomon, the Chairman of GoFundMe, to act swiftly to stop these kinds of fundraisers from being published in the first place.”
theGrio also reached out to Facebook about the “Justice For Gregory and Travis McMichael” and received the following response: “We are looking into this group and will circle back.”
The investigation of the murder of Arbery took another turn this week as it has been revealed that at least one of the shooters and Arbery may have known each other.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Greg McMichael previously investigated the 25-year-old. Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill recused himself from the case due to a conflict of interest, in a letter sent to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
He wrote that his son, a prosecutor in the Brunswick DA’s office, and McMichael, then an investigator in that same office, “both helped with the previous prosecution of (Ahmaud) Arbery.”
Barnhill claimed that he only became aware of this previous association “three or four weeks” earlier. He made no mention as to why he waited to come forward with this information but accused others of spreading lies about him and the McMichaels.