The Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), a bail-issuing nonprofit trending since George Floyd’s death, recently used its donations intended for jailed protestors to bail several violent offenders.
Donors intended for their MFF contributions to bail out jailed Black Lives Matter protesters. Instead, Fox9 found that MFF recently paid near half a million in cash to bail out two individuals whose charges are entirely unrelated to Floyd protests.
One of the individuals, Darnika Floyd (pictured left), stands accused of second degree murder for stabbing someone to death; the other is Christopher Boswell (pictured right), a twice-convicted rapist facing two separate charges for kidnapping, sexual assault, and assault.
Under Minnesota law, records of third parties such as the MFF who pay bail in cash aren’t public. The only way to discover who bailed who is through other public court documents, such as those recording an agreement by defendants to pay back bail money to their issuers. Cash bail becomes the property of the accused, regardless of who posted the bail.
Not only are Twitter users calling out the MFF – they attempting to hold some of Hollywood and Washington’s political elite responsible.
Floyd’s death triggered many celebrities to donate to the MFF, persuading their fan bases to do the same – Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and Ben Schwartz, to name a few. Several of Joe Biden’s staffers also donated to MFF, causing backlash to the Democratic presidential candidate.
As of yet, neither Biden’s campaign or any of the celebrity donors have issued comments on the matter.
Greg Lewin, the interim executive director of MFF, said that he doesn’t look at the charge when posting bail, because that’s “not the point.”
The nonprofit’s Board President, Octavia Smith, agreed that the focus isn’t so much the charges but rather the idea of accused individuals being held in jail at all.
“[The] cash bail system is just operating on this thing [where] they haven’t been convicted of anything, you know? And people are literally rotting in jail because they can’t afford to pay high bills.”
The legal system has historically relied on bail to ensure the defendant returns to court, and to protect the community and any victim(s). In the event that a defendant fails to return – such as was the case for one of MFF’s recently bailed suspects – the court will hold the bond issuer accountable. Normally, bonds issuers will send out a bounty hunter to track down the defendant. In their case, MFF forfeited the bail money.
This isn’t the first time the nonprofit has stirred controversy. In June, Twitter users were in uproar over the nonprofit’s tweet about spending only $200,000 of its recently-acquired $35 million for bailouts.
Without jeopardizing the safety of the folks we bailed out we paid well over $200k in the weeks since the uprising alone. We are working on doing more.
— Minnesota Freedom Fund (@MNFreedomFund) June 16, 2020
Prior to Floyd’s death, MFF stated on its site that it was a three person staff with an annual budget hovering around $200,000. After, MFF donations soared to around $35 million.
Most recently, the nonprofit tweeted that it spent $1.5 million on 95 people in July, totaling $2.3 million and 181 people since protests and riots began in the wake of Floyd’s death. The post also shared its transferral of $4.5 million to the National Bail Fund Network, an organization with the express goal of abolishing the bail system and any form of pretrial detention.
It is unclear what percentage of those funds was applied to jailed protesters.
MFF did not respond for a comment by press time.
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