The organizer of a protest at a Phoenix mosque last week watched his GoFundMe campaign to raise $10 million for his family’s security shut down three days after it was set up.
Protest organizer Jon Ritzheimer had a brief moment in the sun when he was interviewed by Anderson Cooper about his “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II,” featuring a “Draw Mohammad” contest.
Ritzheimer saw his protest fizzle, drawing only a few hundred people, with as many opposing him as supporting him and has since made the rally Facebook page unavailable. The former Marine had stated that he would be selling “F*ck Islam” shirts as part of his campaign to promote freedom of speech.
After Ritzheimer complained that his life had been threatened in response to the protest he set up a fundraising appeal on GoFundMe asking for $10 million.
GoFundMe and other crowd-sourcing sites have become popular within the conservative movement to help support fellow conservatives who believe their 1st Amendment rights have been taken away. Owners of an Indiana pizza parlor — who were forced to shut down their business when protests erupted after they said they wouldn’t cater gay weddings — garnered over $800,000. A subsequent fundraising appeal by anti-gay Christian bakers in Oregon was shuttered, with the owners blaming the shut-down on “Satan.”
On Facebook, Ritzheimer wrote, “Here we go. Thank you all in advance. We will make this country great again and I hope we can do it peacefully! Semper Fi”
His pitch for funds stated, “Hello to all my fellow Americans. I am starting this campaign to humbly ask for donations. So that I may provide security for my family. I don’t fear for myself, but I fear for them and it is truley [sic] sad that any American would have to endure…”
By Monday morning the campaign had been pulled with no explanation given.
In subsequent posts on his Facebook page, Ritzheimer made no mention of the now-defunct appeal, writing, ” Gonna get some sleep tonight and then continue my mission of restoring the constitution that is being infringed upon. Main Stream media won’t give me a fair interview so I’ll be having to get the word out through smaller and more reliable networks that actually have some integrity. The 3%ers never had it easy. They were burdened with a love so strong that they were forced to take initiative. Good night America.”
Before it was taken down, Ben Norton was able to get a screen-capture which he posted on Twitter:
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) June 1, 2015