Crowdfunding site GoFundMe has shut down a campaign raising money for the six Baltimore police officers charged in death of Freddie Gray.
The Baltimore police union launched the page Friday, but a GoFundMe spokeswoman said the page has been removed because it violated company policy.
“GoFundMe cannot be used to benefit those who are charged with serious violations of the law,” said Kelsea Little, GoFundMe’s public relations manager. “The campaign clearly stated that the money raised would be used to assist the officers with their legal fees, which is a direct violation of GoFundMe’s terms.”
The website specifically bars campaigns “in defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.”
The officers charged in Gray’s death surrendered Friday to face criminal counts including second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Bail for each was set at between $250,000 and $350,000. All the officers posted bond and were released.
Baltimore police officers are unhappy with the charges, which union lawyer Michael E. Davey called a rush to judgment.
“No officer injured Mr. Gray. No officer hurt Mr. Gray,” Davey said. “Our intention is to try this case in the courtroom and not the media. We believe these officers will be vindicated since they did nothing wrong.”
“I can tell you they are not happy,” union President Gene Ryan said, saying police were “appalled” by the charges. “This decision to charge officers is going to make our job harder.”
The campaign for the six officers comes as politically charged online fundraisers continue to pop up around the country. Last month, GoFundMe shut down a similar page for Michael T. Slager, the former South Carolina officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man.
In that case, the page’s organizer turned to another crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo, to raise money.
Indiegogo initially said the controversial fundraiser didn’t violate the site’s policies, but has since shut the page down because it “did not meet” the standards of the platform’s Trust and Safety Team.
“Our Trust & Safety team regularly conducts verifications and checks and these campaigns did not meet their standards,” an Indiegogo spokesman wrote in an email to the Chicago Tribune.
The Baltimore police union found another way to raise the funds -- it launched a “Distress Fund” for the officers on its own website, though the page was unavailable early Saturday afternoon.
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