Tensions reached breaking point in Ferguson, Missouri last week, when protesting turned to riots following a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in August. A large number of local businesses have suffered considerable damage as a result, with many buildings being completely burned down. But the reconstruction process has already begun, with donations flooding in from across the United States via online crowdfunding platforms.
According to The Washington Post, $500,000 has been raised on GoFundMe alone, which is currently running dozens of campaigns under ‘Ferguson Business Relief’. “The many recent campaigns started for Ferguson business owners are shining examples of what can happen when communities come together for a common cause,” says GoFundMe spokesperson Kelsea Little. “It’s incredibly heartwarming to see so many generous people come together to help these businesses rebuild.”
One such business is ‘Natalie’s Cakes and More’. After proprietor Natalie Dubose was photographed crying in front of her vandalised storefront, activist Kristine Froeba set up a repair fund in her name. So far the campaign has raised over $267,000 – more than ten times the original $20,000 target. Froeba and Dubose are currently in the process of sending out thank you notes to over 8,000 individual donors: “Everyone just wanted to do something to make this better,” says Froeba.
And it’s not just entrepreneurs getting help. The Ferguson Public Library, which pledged to stay open throughout the troubles, has since been inundated with over $300,000 in online donations, in addition to stacks of signed books from authors such as John Green and Joelle Charbonneau.
“Internet fundraising has played a central role in the national reaction to the ongoing saga in Ferguson,” says Wesley Lowery. “Within a day of the public release of Wilson’s name, hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated at fundraisers and online for his legal defense. The Brown family, meanwhile, collected a few thousand dollars in an online fundraiser set up to offset their son’s burial costs… So it seemed to make sense that the businesses damaged in the unrest following the grand jury announcement did the same thing.”