For more than a week, Canada has been experiencing unprecedented protests in the country. At the head of these protests, as the most visible symbol, the ‘Freedom Convoy’: thousands of truckers who are blocking key points of the country’s capital with the aim of achieving the end of the COVID-19 restrictions (such as mandatory vaccination)… and the resignation of the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who even moved to a “secret location” for several days for “his safety”.
But how did a truckers’ protest in Canada end up provoking controversy among prominent figures in the U.S. tech industry?
The organizers of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ had turned to GoFundMe, the popular US online donation platform, as a way of channeling financial support from supporters to cover their food, fuel and accommodation costs, and had raised as much as C$10 million (about €7.5 million).
However, on January 25 GoFundMe notified them that it had proceeded to block the funds raised until they submitted a detailed plan on how they intended to distribute them.
Although it initially released part of that money to enable the payment of fuel, this past Friday the platform’s managers decided definitively to suspend the fundraising campaign, claiming that the convoy’s activities were causing inconvenience to Ottawa residents and that this contravened its policies.
The destination of the money already raised generated its own controversy, as GoFundMe suggested that the part of it that was not claimed by donors would be distributed to charities of the rally organizers’ choice… among those that had the platform’s ‘go-ahead’.
At the time, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron De Santis, announced that he would turn the GoFundMe ‘fraud’ case into the hands of prosecutors, who he accused of “appropriating” the donations. Shortly thereafter, GoFundMe clarified that it would proceed to refund all donated money automatically, without prior request, “to simplify the process for our users.”
The sum of all these obstacles imposed by GoFundMe on the Canadian truckers’ protest apparently outraged Elon Musk, who chose to post a meme on Twitter calling GoFundMe “professional thieves”, followed by another showing a screenshot of a tweet from the platform itself, publicly endorsing the cause of the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ or ‘CHAZ’.
It’s not my money pic.twitter.com/IKRxhGo8wS
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 5, 2022
‘CHAZ’ was a protest held in Seattle, during the rise of the ‘Black Live Matters’ movement, which resulted in the practical separation of an entire district of the city (barricades through) for three weeks in the summer of 2020, during which the area was under the armed control of rapper and activist (and alleged sex trafficker) Raz Simone.
With this second tweet Musk apparently intended to show GoFundMe’s double standards and the extent to which their idea of ‘inconveniencing residents’ seems to have changed markedly in the last year and a half.
Finally, the ‘Freedom Convoy’ and its supporters have broken the funding fence by resorting by starting a new campaign on Tallycoin, a bitcoin-based crowdfunding platform, whose managers have no ability to appropriate and/or redirect the funds raised.