A fundraising group to support efforts to stop the logging of ancient trees in southwest Vancouver Island has moved to a new platform after freezing its funds for the second time.
The fundraiser on GoFundMe, titled “Direct Action for the Last Oldest Tropical Forests,” has raised approximately $ 710,000 since its launch last September. Comments on the page show donations were still arriving just three days ago, but a note now says the organizer has turned off new donations for fundraising.
Kathy Code, spokesperson for Rainforest Flying Squad, which is associated with a series of blockades on logging roads near Port Renfrew to prevent old logging, said about $ 1,000 of the money collected have been temporarily frozen by GoFundMe and cannot be accessed by the group. , but the rest of the funds have already been withdrawn.
The group decided to switch to a fundraising platform called Fundrazer, headquartered in Vancouver, to avoid further problems, she said. The new fundraiser has already raised nearly $ 150,000.
A spokesperson for GoFundMe did not respond to questions about the reasons for the funds freeze, but said in a statement: âWe are in contact with the fundraising organizers. Funds are held securely with our payment processor while we collect more information. “
Donations to the group are used to maintain camps where people have gathered to protest ancient logging, providing housing to stay warm and dry, supplies to communicate in the remote area where there is has no cell phone service, transportation and other initiatives, such as materials promotions, according to the web page.
The funds are also used for the legal defense of the more than 400 people who have been arrested in an injunction area, Code said.
A court injunction granted to logging company Teal-Jones Group in April bans people from blocking access to the large injunction area. The injunction does not prohibit peaceful demonstrations, as long as the terms of the order are respected.
While many campers in the area do not actively block Teal-Jones crews, others chain themselves to objects to prevent logging.
Code said the money collected is only used for legal protest activities.
âThe public understands why they’re donating, and they’re willing to give a few times, and then, you know, big sums of money,â she said. âWe are in our eleventh month and people still trust us. And of course, they wouldn’t donate if they thought there had been abuse of funds. “
The GoFundMe was also frozen in early June when the platform wanted to ensure the money was used for the purposes stated, Code said.
The group was able to convince GoFundMe staff that the funds are being used appropriately, she said.
“I don’t know why they decided the second time around that we might not follow this.”
The group suspects GoFundMe was pressured to freeze the page.
Logging company Teal-Jones did not answer questions about whether it had contacted GoFundMe about the fundraiser.
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