'Minnesota Freedom Fund' Reels After Getting $30M

The nonprofit is suddenly flush and under a microscope
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2020 6:20 PM CDT
'Minnesota Freedom Fund' Reels in the Spotlight
Protestors demonstrate outside of a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A small nonprofit is feeling the heat after receiving more than $30 million in the wake of George Floyd's death, the New York Times reports. The Minnesota Freedom Fund—which had only one full-time worker earlier this month—became a popular cause for activist and celebrity donors. Now the fund says it has spent $200,000 on bailing people out since protests began and is "working on doing more." But for critics like Nekima Levy Armstrong, former head of the Minneapolis NAACP, that's not enough: "This is unacceptable," she tweeted, per Patch. "We literally have buildings burned down in North Minneapolis and Black businesses and families without essential resources. And there's not a single Black person on your Board."

Indeed, the fund's board appears to consist of only white people. But that's another hot potato, because the fund's executive director, Tonja Honsey, has been accused on Facebook of lying about her Indigenous background. Honsey says the accusations are "untrue" and her daughter was native American "on her grandfather's side," but now she's in arbitration over her job. Meanwhile the board's president, Octavia Smith—who is black—has returned to the fund after cutting ties May 31 over what she calls "some disagreements about leadership." She gets why people are upset, she says, but adds that "we're scaling up" while helping people "impacted by the harms of mass incarceration. We're moving. That is all I can say, that we're moving." (Read more nonprofit stories.)

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