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5 Feb, 2022 04:06

Freedom Convoy finds new crowdfunding platform & crashes it

Despite technical issues caused by a surge in traffic, the new campaign is growing quickly
Freedom Convoy finds new crowdfunding platform & crashes it

A website hosting a new fundraising effort to support truck drivers protesting vaccine mandates in Canada is experiencing major technical difficulties, with a wave of traffic crashing the platform after GoFundMe canceled a prior campaign that garnered millions of dollars.

Shortly after GoFundMe gave the boot to the ‘Freedom Convoy 2022’ campaign on Friday afternoon, organizers made another attempt on Christian crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo, raising more than $150,000 in just a matter of hours. A spike in visitors has caused problems for the website, however.

“We know the site is slow, or getting a server error. We are working on it! All hands on deck. There's thousands on [the site] making successful donations so please try again if you get an error!” it said.

The new fundraiser features a brief video from organizer Tamara Lich, who explained that GoFundMe had shut down the previous campaign that raised around $8 million (Can$10 million) after only disbursing $1 million, freezing the rest.

“We decided to team up with an organization called GiveSendGo, which is going to enable us to get donations into the hands of the truckers much, much quicker while everybody gets the rest of this stuff sorted out,” she said, adding “You know we plan to be here for the long-haul, as long as it takes to ensure that your rights and freedoms are restored.”

The money is being raised to support a convoy of truckers who have descended on the Canadian capital to demand an end to cross-border vaccine requirements, staging a massive protest in Ottawa. Others have gathered near the border with the US, creating a blockade of big rigs and other vehicles.

While local police have denounced the gatherings as disruptive and unlawful, authorities have been unable to disperse the demonstrators for several days. On the heels of GoFundMe’s decision to scrap the original fund drive, the Ottawa Police Service cheered the move, thanking the site for “listening to our concerns as a City and a police service.”

“The decision to withhold funding for these unlawful demonstrations is an important step and we call on all crowdfunding sites to follow,” it said.

After a review of “relevant facts” and discussions with officials in Ottawa, GoFundMe said the Freedom Convoy campaign violated its rules against “the promotion of violence and harassment,” claiming what had begun as a “peaceful demonstration” had evolved into an illegal “occupation.”

“Given how this situation has evolved, no further funds will be directly distributed to the Freedom Convoy organizers — we will work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities verified by GoFundMe,” the platform said.

Though millions of dollars remain frozen by the site, it has offered to refund money to any donors who request it by February 19, and said it would continue to work with organizers to send the remaining funds to any charities it considers to be “credible and established.”