Advocates Writing Big Checks, NPOs Relocating Events After Charlottesville

Philanthropy responded on a number of fronts following protests that turned violent in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend and President Donald Trump’s assertion that both sides were to blame.

Civil rights organizations received seven-figure pledges in response while several charities high-profile charities said they would no longer hold their galas at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. American Cancer Society and The Cleveland Clinic were among those that already had announced that the organizations would no longer use the Palm Beach, Fla., club for their fundraising events next year and were joined today by Susan G. Komen and Salvation Army, among others, according to The Washington Post.

Also today, members of the President’s Committee On the Arts and Humanities announced their resignations.

Pledges of $1 million were announced to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) while other organizations urged payment processing firms to drop support of white supremacist groups. PayPal was the first to announce that it would limit or close sites that accept payments or raise funds to promote hate and violence. The ACLU, which has seen membership and donations skyrocket since Trump’s election in November, also announced that it would no longer defend hate groups that march with firearms after last weekend’s violence.

In a memo to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company would donate $1 million each to the two organizations. The company also is will match contributions by employees through September and allow users to donate to SPLC through iTunes.
James Murdoch, chief executive of 21st Century Fox and son of Rupert Murdoch, pledged $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League. “We hardly ever talk about our charitable giving, but in this case I wanted to tell you and encourage you to be generous too. Many of you are supporters of the Anti-Defamation League already – now is a great time to give more,” he wrote in an email to friends, obtained by The New York Times.

Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a $100,000 gift to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Calif., a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context.

A chorus of nonprofit leaders raised their voices throughout the week. “There is no moral ambiguity about the intentionally provocative, hatefully motivated, racist and violent behavior ignited by white supremacists last week in Charlottesville,” Ripp Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation, said in a statement yesterday. “These acts of domestic terrorism not only denigrate, but threaten to undermine the values that men and women have been fighting for since the singing of the Declaration of Independence and that define us as a people,” he said.

Rapson noted Kresge’s creation of a $3 million Opportunity Fund last fall and expanding the Presidential Discretionary Fund to respond to the current political and social moment. The fund invests in activities designed to “safeguard civility and decency, advance civil rights, counteract hate, support immigrant and refugee communities, and provide legal support to underserved communities,” he said.

Color of Change, a racial justice organization, launched a website called Blood Money to call out major credit card companies for processing funds for groups “that have inspired hate crimes and organized events like the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), took to Twitter after the president’s press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “There are no 2 sides to this story. There no ‘fine people’ in the ranks of Nazis. Legal permits do not bestow moral permission. When our President is defending the ‘side’ that includes #AltRight #KKK #NeoNazis and promotes hate, something is profoundly, deeply wrong. I don’t care what’s your faith, how you vote or who you love. There is no excuse for this absolutely un-American behavior.”

Color of Change claims that Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express process funds for more than 100 hate groups.
“For months, we’ve been urging these companies to do the right thing and stop providing financial services for white supremacist groups,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change. “But, so far, they are making a conscious choice to let their products provide the financial fuel that makes white supremacist terrorism possible,” he said, adding that they’ve been working with PayPal for months to stop working with hate groups.

“The events in Charlottesville are yet another disturbing example of the many forms that racism and hatred manifest. Prejudice, however, does not always march in the street. Intolerance can take on a range of on-line and off-line forms, across a wide array of content and language,” Franz Paaasche, senior vice president, corporate affairs and communications, at PayPal, said in a statement. It is with this backdrop that PayPal strives to navigate the balance between freedom of expression and open dialogue – and the limiting and closing of sites that accept payments or raise funds to promote hate, violence and intolerance.

“We work to ensure that our services are not used to accept payments or donations for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance. This includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups,” he said. PayPal has a “longstanding, well-defined and consistently enforced Acceptable Use Policy that governs our approach,” he said.

“If we become aware of a website or organization using our services that may violate our policies, our highly trained team of experts addresses each case individually and carefully evaluates the website itself, any associated organizations, and their adherence to our policy. Ultimately, this team of professionals makes a recommendation that leads to the final determination on our ability to maintain our relationship with the website’s owner,” he said.

“Maintaining the necessary balance between protecting the principles of tolerance, diversity and respect for people of all backgrounds with upholding legitimate free expression and open dialogue can be difficult,” Paasche said, but “we must do our very best to achieve it.”

The executive directors of three American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) affiliates issued a statement on white supremacist violence and free speech, and the ACLU later issued its own statement, that it would no longer defend hate groups that march with firearms, as a result of the Charlottesville, Va., violence: “The First Amendment absolutely does not protect white supremacists seeking to incite or engage in violence. We condemn the views of white supremacists, and fight against them every day. At the same time, we believ that even odious hate speech, with which we vehemently disagree, garners the protection of the First Amendment when expressed non-violently.

“We make decisions on whom we’ll represent and in what context on a case-by-case basis. The horrible events in Charlottesville last week will certainly inform those decisions going forward,” they said.

Kevin Walker, president and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation in St. Paul, Minn., said Trump’s decision to attribute blame to “both sides” demands that all “people of conscience” speak out in condemnation.

“Creating a false moral equivalence between hate groups and the people who stand up to protest them is not acceptable. It’s a sad day when obvious truths need repeating,” Walker said in a message to supporters yesterday. “But I’ve decided that on such days, my role as the leader of the foundation requires that I use our voice to defend American values at their best and to resist a slide into double talk,” he said.

“We owe it to the grantees and communities we serve. We believe in a future where every person and community in this country can live a life of self-determined prosperity. To achieve that future, our nation must confront racism and tell the truth. Half-truths and evasions are not good enough. Nor is silence,” Walker said.

“The idea of many becoming one represents the foundation of what it is to be American and it remains unimaginable that the president of the United States continues to defend the actions of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white nationalists,” said Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO of the NAACP. “President Trump’s disgraceful embrace of the worst kind of hate reveals a man lacking any moral compass and an understanding of what it means to be an American in the 21st century,” he said.

“An American lost her life and many others were injured standing up to these hate-mongers and terrorists. The fact that Trump would attempt to shift the blame is appalling. Now is the time for all Americans to say enough is enough,” Johnson said. “Despite President Trump’s failure thus far to exhibit the moral clarity necessary to call out white supremacy and terrorism on our own soil, the NAACP joins with millions of Americans to call upon him to live up to the responsibilities embedded in the office of the POTUS and stand against racism.”