- Police, encouraged by Trump, have become increasingly violent with protesters in recent days, arresting thousands, many of whom were demonstrating peacefully.
- In response, people are donating to local bail funds to help keep protesters out of prisons, which have become coronavirus hot spots.
- Celebrities including Drake, Chrissy Teigen, and Steve Carrell have all pitched in, and one fund raised $20 million in just four days, The New York Times reported.
- This map, created by developer Ornella Friggit, shows where you can donate to bail funds across the US.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Over the past week, largely peaceful demonstrations have taken place in more than 75 cities across the US, though some have spiraled into chaos and deadly violence as law enforcement officials use increasingly heavy-handed crowd control tactics.
Police rammed vehicles into protesters in New York City on Saturday, shot and killed a man in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, carried out unprovoked assaults, shot paint grenades at residents on their own porch, and have frequently deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bang grenades.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump endorsed law enforcement’s use of force against demonstrators protesting police brutality.
“D.C. had no problems last night,” he tweeted. “Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination. Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!).”
The tweet came a day after police in Washington, DC, used tear gas to clear peaceful protesters from a park so Trump could take a photo in front of a church.
Since protests began on May 26 in Minneapolis, more than 4,000 people have been arrested, according to CNN.
The mass arrests are sending people to prisons even though overcrowding and inadequate safety measures have turned them into hot spots for COVID-19 transmission during the pandemic.
In response, people have been flooding bail funds with donations in an attempt to help protesters stay out of police custody while they await trial.
This “Resistance Map” shows where you can donate to bail funds across the US.
In just four days after protests began in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Freedom Fund raised $20 million to bail protesters out of jail, according to The New York Times. That included donations from celebrities like Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and Abbi Jacobson.
A variety of celebrities have since donated to other charities that aim to bail out protesters, such as Drake, Chrissy Teigen, Kali Uchis, Janelle Monáe, Don Cheadle, Blake Lively, Pete Holmes, Patton Oswalt, and Ben Schwartz.
To help people connect with bail funds in their community, Ornella Friggit, who works as a software developer, built a map that tracks organizations across the US.
Friggit told Business Insider she was inspired after connecting with other African American coders on social media who joined together to share and create resources around the George Floyd demonstrations.
“I had seen several wonderful Twitter threads and spreadsheets about bail funds, community organizations and crowdfunding. I wanted to amplify them in a shareable, visually impactful way, and a map seemed like a good idea,” she said.
Friggit specifically wanted to highlight funds that have been doing this work for a long time, and said she wanted to “provide everyone with an avenue to be impactful in their own community.”
In just two days, with the help of two friends who helped her research organizations, Friggit said the map was ready to go live. She said the response has been “overwhelmingly positive” and that the next step is to develop a way to securely gather suggestions for new additions to the map.
Why are bail funds important?
When someone is arrested, a judge often requires them to “post,” or pay, bail — a fee that’s meant to ensure they’ll show up for their trial. If they’re unable to pay, they’re held in jail until their court date.
That can have devastating impacts: people detained pretrial can lose their jobs, fall behind in school, be unable to to take care of family, and are more likely to be convicted — not to mention the nearly $14 billion it costs taxpayers each year, according to Prison Policy Initiative.
While the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibits “excessive bail,” in reality, the practice discriminates heavily against black and Latino individuals. Their fines are typically 35% and 19% higher, respectively, than whites who have been accused of similar crimes, while simply being black increases someone’s odds of being held in jail pretrial by 25%, according to the Pretrial Justice Institute.
The result is that, on any given day, 6 in 10 people in America’s jails and prisons are being held there despite having never been convicted of the charges against them, according to PJI.
To add to the existing challenges facing people who are incarcerated, they’re now at disproportionately high risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, prompting efforts by activists, politicians, and prison officials to have inmates released.
While many cities and even the US Department of Justice have started releasing nonviolent inmates, but critics worry that the process isn’t happening fast enough — a problem that could be exacerbated by jailing thousands of protesters.