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GoFundMe shuts down page for S. Carolina officer; Indiegogo lets one go up

GoFundMe removes page for South Carolina officer charged with murder, fundraiser moves to Indiegogo

Crowdfunding site GoFundMe shut down a campaign for Michael T. Slager, the former South Carolina officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man, the company said Thursday.

“After review by our team, the campaign set up for Officer Slager was removed due to a violation of our Terms & Conditions,” Kelsea Little, the site's public relations manager, said in an email to the Los Angeles Times. "Campaigns in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes are prohibited by our terms."

That didn't stop the page's organizer from raising money on Slager's behalf. Twitter user @DefendMichaelS let followers know the campaign had moved to another crowdfunding platform: Indiegogo.

By Thursday morning, 24 people had donated a total of $546 toward the campaign for the North Charleston officer, who was fired Tuesday after being charged in the death of 50-year-old Walter Lamar Scott.

The charges were filed less than an hour after the city's mayor and police chief received a cellphone video that appears to show Scott fleeing as Slager fires at least eight shots in his direction.

Indiegogo said the controversial fundraiser doesn't violate the site's policies.

"Indiegogo allows anyone, anywhere to fund ideas that matter to them and just like other open platforms -- such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter -- we don't judge the content of campaigns as long as they are in compliance with our Terms of Use," the company said in a statement. 

The organizer behind the campaign, identified as "R Owen" on Indiegogo, did not return requests for comment. Owen posted an update on the page Wednesday in response to "negative reactions" to the fundraiser.

“Ofc Michael Slager deserves a competent defense no matter what the court of popular opinion says about his actions,” the update said. “This is still America.”

The campaign for Slager comes as politically-charged online fundraisers continue to pop up around the country. Last week, a GoFundMe page for owners of an Indiana pizzeria who said they wouldn't cater a same-sex wedding capped at about $842,000.

The pizza shop landed in the center of a national debate over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, when co-owner Crystal O'Connor told a local television reporter her family would refuse requests to cater a same-sex wedding reception because it conflicted with their faith.

O'Connor's comments quickly gained national attention, as activists said the Walkerton, Ind., pizzeria highlighted concerns that Indiana's legislation allowed blanket protections for businesses that engaged in discriminatory practices.

In the case of the fundraiser for Slager, the campaign said its goal was not to "judge wrong or right, there are two sides to every story. Let the courts decide after careful review."

"We do not or will not support ANY criminal activity!!” @DefendMichaelS tweeted. "We are only lobbying for competent council and a fair trial."

For more national news, follow me on Twitter: @ParviniParlance

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