The Dark Story of a Fund Backed by Kamala Harris
All you need to know about The Minnesota Freedom Fund
On June 1, 2020, in the midst of the violent riots supported by the Democrats all across the United States after George Floyd’s death in May 2020, Kamala Harris sent a message on Twitter promoting a bail fund. “If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota”, she wrote.
What Harris did not know — or pretended not to know — is that the history of the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) is littered with misjudgments that cast a grim shadow over the U.S. justice system.
A Tweet That’s Worth Gold
Before the future U.S. vice-president’s tweet, the MFF was a negligible organization. In 2018, it had raised only about $100,000, its tax filing showed. The average amount of bail it paid stood at $342. But Harris’s public support bumped it up to $13,195, as of Sept. 3, 2020, according to data provided by The Washington Post.
Yes, Harris’s tweet was worth gold to the MFF, which raked in 35 million after it was posted, instead of the $100,000 the year before. An explosion of greenbacks that allowed the fund to release criminals, some of whom have committed irreparable harm.
On April 29, the Minnesota Freedom Fund paid $2,000 to bail Shawn Tillman, who had been charged with indecent exposure for masturbating in front of a woman on St. Paul public transit. About three weeks later, on May 20, Tillman, who had previous convictions for assault, illegal possession of a firearm and indecent exposure in the presence of a minor, killed a man in downtown St. Paul.
In 2021, George Howard was charged with second-degree murder in a road rage incident on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Weeks earlier, Howard, who was banned from owning a firearm due to previous convictions, was released on $1,500 bond paid by, you guessed it, the MFF.
In 2020, the same MFF shelled out $75,000 to get a sex offender, who faced up to 30 years in prison after raping an 8-year-old girl, to move freely again. Shortly before, the Kamala Harris-backed fund had bailed out a man facing up to 20 years in prison for burglary and assault on a 71-year-old woman.
During the violent protests in May-June 2020, Jaleel Stallings was charged with attempted murder after shooting at police officers. But thanks to the MFF, which paid a bond of $75,000 cash, Stallings got out of jail.
Another man, Lionel Timms, who had been charged with assault in July 2020, could breathe fresh air again thanks to funds once again provided by the MFF. After his release from jail, he committed third-degree assault, leaving the victim with brain injury and a fractured skull.
In a statement, the MFF said it was “deeply saddened and troubled” by this case, but downplayed it by pointing out that Timms had lacked support after his release.