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Kyle Rittenhouse GoFundMe: Fundraising platform under fire over rules surrounding legal fees

Kyle Rittenhouse was proven "not-guilty" of all charges in the Kenosha homicide trial (Image via Getty Images)
Kyle Rittenhouse was proven "not-guilty" of all charges in the Kenosha homicide trial (Image via Getty Images)
Barsha Roy
ANALYST

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial finally came to a close as he pleaded “self-defense” and was proven “not guilty” during the latest hearing on Friday, November 19, 2021.

The 18-year-old was initially charged with killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz using an AR-15 style rifle during the Jacob Blake protests in Kenosha on August 25, 2020.

#KyleRittenhouse - As Rittenhouse begins to describe Rosenbaum running toward him, he breaks down on the stand. The judge had to call for a 10 min break. @LawCrimeNetwork https://t.co/ThClSE8JpJ

However, the defendant was cleared of all charges on grounds of self-defense following nearly four days of deliberations. In the wake of the verdict, recognized fundraising platform GoFundMe landed in hot waters for its rules surrounding fundraisers for legal fees for the trial.

I just found out that the gofundme org refused to let Kyle Rittenhouse set up an account to help pay for his defense. Kyle, add GoFundMe to the list of people you’re going to sue.

The platform reportedly removed all online fundraisers related to Kyle Rittenhouse last year but has now decided to allow future fundraisers for legal fees as he was not proven guilty of the charges.


GoFundMe addresses Kyle Rittenhouse fundraising controversy

GoFundMe issued official statement regarding the Kyle Rittenhouse fundraiser controversy (Image via GoFundMe)
GoFundMe issued official statement regarding the Kyle Rittenhouse fundraiser controversy (Image via GoFundMe)

Following the GoFundMe Kyle Rittenhouse fundraiser controversy, the platform provided a detailed explanation of the reasons behind their actions.

It clarified on Medium that several fundraising pages created for the teenager’s legal fees were removed last year as it went against their “terms of service” related to collecting funds for individuals charged with alleged violent crimes:

“GoFundMe’s Terms of Service prohibit raising money for the legal defense of an alleged violent crime. Once charges for a violent crime were brought against Kyle Rittenhouse in 2020, GoFundMe removed fundraisers that were started for the defendant’s legal defense.”

It stated that the campaigns were removed by the Trust & Safety team as part of their “monitoring efforts”:

“We did this as part of our regular monitoring efforts; in addition to those fundraisers, our Trust & Safety team removed hundreds of other fundraisers between August and December 2020 — unrelated to Rittenhouse — that we determined were in violation of this long-standing policy.”
GoFundMe’s Terms of Service prohibit raising money for the legal defense of an alleged violent crime. In light of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, we want to clarify when and why we have removed certain fundraisers in the past: medium.com/gofundme-stori…

GoFundMe mentioned that once defendants like Kyle Rittenhouse are acquitted of their charges, any fundraiser created to cover their legal defense or additional expenses would not go against the policy:

“A fundraiser to pay lawyers, cover legal expenses or to help with ongoing living expenses for a person acquitted of those charges could remain active as long as we determine it is not in violation of any of our other terms and, for example, the purpose is clearly stated and the correct beneficiary is added to the fundraiser.”

The platform also mentioned that its terms of service undergo constant evaluation keeping in mind several human rights:

“We constantly evaluate and evolve our Terms of Service and consider new factors that keep emerging in today’s world. We care deeply about human rights and have written terms to address this — we do not allow fundraisers that support hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination; or involves weaponry.”

GoFundMe also shared that it is currently monitoring the site to verify related fundraisers so that the funds reach the rightful recipient while keeping the fundraiser within the terms of service of the platform.


A look into the Kyle Rittenhouse 'not-guilty' verdict

Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges on November 19, 2021 (Image via Getty Images)
Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges on November 19, 2021 (Image via Getty Images)

Kyle Rittenhouse was filed with six criminal charges, including one count of misdemeanor and five counts of felony for the fatal shooting during the Jacob Blake protests that left Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber dead, and Gaige Grosskreutz injured.

However, the teenager pled “not-guilty” to the charges as he informed the court his actions were the result of “self-defense” while he was being attacked.

The dramatic trial earned national interest as the prosecutors and defendants were torn between deeming the actions as “reckless” and “defensive,” respectively.

Following days of hearings involving a jury of eight men, 10 women and more than 30 witnesses, a final panel of five men and seven women ruled the unanimous decision of Kylie Rittenhouse being “not-guilty” of any charges.

The youngster was cleared of all felony counts, including the crucial “first-degree intentional homicide” after four days of deliberations with close monitoring of video evidence during the shooting.

The sixth misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor was already dismissed by Jugde Schroeder prior to the deliberation. The defendant would have faced lifetime imprisonment had he been proven guilty.


Edited by Rupak Kumar Jha
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