On Aug. 11, 2020, then-U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden chosen California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as his Democratic operating mate within the race towards Republican incumbents Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
Following that announcement, Trump and his supporters tried to name consideration to what they framed as immoral judgment by Harris — the Trump marketing campaign alleged she wrongly inspired People to assist individuals who have been arrested throughout protests over the police in-custody dying of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
For instance, in an Aug. 17 speech to supporters in Mankato, Minnesota (which is about 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis), Trump stated, in accordance with a Factba.se transcription of the occasion:
Kamala Harris inspired People to donate to the so-called Minnesota Freedom Fund — are you aware that’s? — which bailed out the rioters, looters, assaulters, and anarchists from jail. And Biden’s employees did the identical factor; they donated lots of their cash to get them out of jail so that everybody was proper again on the streets. Consider that: That is what’s operating for workplace.
Lower than two weeks later, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, doubled down on the president’s declare, alleging in a tweet: “Kamala Harris helped violent rioters in Minnesota get out of jail to do extra injury.”
Across the similar time, not less than one conservative website purported in a headline that Harris donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), which certainly provides money to individuals who can not afford bail in order that they don’t have to attend in jail till court docket hearings, or comply with high-interest loans.
Over the course of months, quite a few Snopes readers contacted us to analyze whether or not Harris had truly given cash to the Minnesota-based group, and, in that case, whether or not these contributions allowed for any of the roughly 170 individuals who have been arrested throughout protests to get out of jail and commit extra crimes.
First, allow us to establish what seemed to be the idea of these assertions. Following Floyd’s dying, supporters of the civil rights motion nationwide (including many celebrities) donated more than $30 million to MFF, in accordance with the nonprofit and information reviews. Excessive-profile donors used social media to advertise their contributions, and Harris, on June 1, used her official accounts as a vice presidential candidate to precise her help for the fundraising effort.
“If you happen to’re in a position to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to assist submit bail for these protesting on the bottom in Minnesota,” she wrote on Fb and Twitter, together with hyperlinks to an MFF donation web page on the left-leaning fundraising website, ActBlue.
In different phrases, whereas it was true Harris publicly expressed help for the nonprofit and inspired others to donate to it in summer season 2020, she didn’t say on social media — or by way of some other public assertion — that she herself donated cash to the group.
Subsequent, we analyzed how Harris’ 2020 marketing campaign spent cash and if, or to what extent, it helped the nonprofit, regardless of the actual fact she had not publicly declared the doable monetary tie in a speech, interview, or on social media. Primarily based on marketing campaign filings compiled by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Center for Responsive Politics, no expenditure receipt listed “Minnesota Freedom Fund” — debunking the doable declare that she used marketing campaign cash to assist the nonprofit.
Snopes reached out to MFF, asking if Harris at any level donated cash and, in that case, for the contribution’s particulars. Greg Lewin, the group’s interim government director, responded to us by way of e-mail: “No, we now have nothing in our information indicating a donation from Vice President Harris.”
We additionally reached out to Harris’ press secretary, Symone Sanders, to touch upon critics’ accusations, however we now have not heard again. We are going to replace this report when or if we do. (As a part of a wide-sweeping proposal to reform the nation’s felony justice system, the Biden-Harris administration has pledged to remove the nation’s cash-bail system.)
Now, allow us to transfer to the latter declare relating to the individuals who MFF helped in the course of the protests, in gentle of Harris’ June 1 posts praising the group’s work.
Established in 2016, MFF is among the many many nonprofits that try to counteract inequities within the nation’s cash-bail system by paying detainees’ felony and immigration bonds. Then, when these individuals attend court docket proceedings to find out the result of their case — or whether or not they certainly broke the legislation previous to their arrest — they have to return the complete worth of the money bail to the Minnesota-based nonprofit. The MFF web site states:
We’ve by no means made choices based mostly merely on pretrial cost — and we gained’t now. […]
We have now all the time prioritized those that are unable to pay for freedom and face the best degree of hazard and marginalization. We are going to proceed to heart and prioritize the next teams in our bail fee:
BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and Individuals of Colour)
These experiencing homelessness
Individuals arrested who dwell in Minnesota
Those that have been detained whereas combating for justice
Practically half the individuals we pay bail for have had their case fully dismissed, suggesting there was by no means a case for the arrest or cost to start with. Subsequently, if a choose has determined that somebody might be launched as long as they’ll afford the worth, we can pay that payment if we will afford it.
Like in dozens of U.S. cities the place individuals protested Floyd’s dying, peaceable marches in the course of the day between Might 26 and early June set the stage for vandalism and destruction at night time.
Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of people that have been arrested in the course of the giant gatherings — whether or not chaotic or peaceable — didn’t want the MFF’s assist.
Citing accounting by the American Bail Coalition (a commerce group of insurance coverage corporations who revenue from underwriting bail bonds) and Hennepin County jail information, The Washington Post reported in September that each one however three of the 170 individuals arrested in the course of the protests have been launched from jail inside per week. Of the 167 launched, solely 10 needed to put up a financial bond to be launched, and, generally, the quantities have been nominal, resembling $78 or $100. The truth is, 92 p.c of these arrested didn’t must pay bail — and 29 p.c of these arrested didn’t face fees, the information outlet reported.
“We have now paid all of the protest bails which have come our approach,” the MFF web site said. “[Many] of the individuals who have been arrested in the course of the rebellion weren’t detained and as an alternative got citations then launched, have been launched with no bail, or held with no bail.”
Nonetheless, among the many small group of people that did obtain direct bail help from the nonprofit, one man was arrested on suspicion of capturing at police with an AK-47-style mini Draco pistol within the early hours of Might 30, in addition to a woman who allegedly stole from a cellular phone retailer in a Minneapolis suburb and different companies the day prior, in accordance with The Washington Post and different news reports. As of September, the nonprofit paid $75,000 in money to assist the previous suspect and $750 to help the latter.
Moreover, a 32-year-old man whom MFF bailed out on an assault cost in July — a case that was unrelated to the protests — was charged with committing third-degree assault the next month, leaving the sufferer with a traumatic mind harm and a fractured cranium, in accordance with news reports. Lewin stated in a statement afterward that the group must “strengthen our inner procedures” to make sure its shoppers keep out of the felony justice system after their first go-around.
In sum, whereas Harris certainly expressed public help for MFF following Floyd’s dying, it was false to assert she donated cash to the group, or that it helped protesters “get out of jail and do extra injury,” like Cotton alleged. Quite, no proof existed to indicate the handful of people that acquired direct bail help for arrests associated to the demonstrations dedicated extra crimes after their preliminary detainment. For these causes, we price this declare “Largely false.”