A Change.org petition claiming responsibility for the murder of George Floyd has been criticized for a misleading fundraiser. In a Medium article on Tuesday, more than 90 former Change.org employees asked the company to donate funds to Floyd's family and organizers instead of using the funds to promote the campaign itself.
"These actions represent Change.org, which benefits from the death of the blacks," says the medium article. "We understand that this is a serious statement on the survey and we do not take it lightly."
Change.org's petition, launched by activists shortly after Floyd's death, calls on Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and local prosecutor Mike Freeman to file charges against the police officers involved in Floyd's death. Since the start of the petition, one official has been charged with second degree murder while others have been released. As protests against police violence have escalated around the world, the petition has continued to grow, gathering more than 17 million signatures at press time.
The criticism stems from Change.org's "chip-in" function, which seems to have surprised some organizers. Once a user has added their name to a petition, they will be asked to make a small donation to help fund the campaign. More than half a million people signed up for the Floyd petition on Change.org. This money was used to finance more than 100 billboards in New York City and Minneapolis, each with a picture of Floyd's face and a link to the petition.
According to the critics, this money should have gone to Floyd's family or the ongoing protest movement. "These contributions serve to market the petition and Change.org itself," argues the medium contribution.
The chip-in system is activated by default and it is unclear whether the organizers of the petition knew that these funds had been raised. The same system has caused confusion in the past. The organizers sometimes directly ask supporters not to donate and make it clear that they have no access to the funds raised through their campaign.
At some point after the publication of the Medium contribution, Change.org appears to have deactivated the chip in the Floyd petition, so that no more money is requested after the signature.
Change.org was asked to comment and said it took the concerns seriously, but declined to commit to donating the funds to an outside group.
"We take these requests from our former colleagues seriously," said a representative. "Under the leadership of the current black employees, we are actively listening and working on how this contribution can best help the historic racial justice movements that are currently operating in our country."