Republicans look to ban organizations like the Minnesota Freedom Fund

The Minnesota Freedom Fund was founded in 2016 and raked in more than $40 million in revenue after it was promoted by numerous celebrities during the George Floyd riots.

Rep. Mary Franson discusses her bill at a Thursday press conference. (Rep. Mary Franson/Facebook)

State Republicans are once again looking to crack down on the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a controversial nonprofit with a history of bailing out violent criminals who go on to reoffend.

Rep. Mary Franson of Alexandria introduced the Bail Abatement Non-Profit Exclusion Act Thursday, which she’s calling the BANE Act for short.

“The definition of bane is to cause great distress or pain and that is exactly what the Minnesota Freedom Fund has done,” Franson said at a press conference. “They have brought pain and distress to victims and all Minnesotans who no longer feel safe in their communities because of the rise in crime.”

Under Franson’s bill, nonprofits would be prohibited from organizing or registering in the state of Minnesota for the purpose of “providing payment to a person or to a state court in order to satisfy a bail condition determined by the court.”

The Minnesota Freedom Fund was founded in 2016 and raked in more than $40 million in revenue after it was promoted by numerous celebrities during the George Floyd riots. The premise was that the money would be used to bail out protesters, but the group’s former executive director said only about a dozen protesters needed bail assistance.

Instead, the money has been used in many cases to bail out violent criminals, several of whom have been charged with new crimes while out on bail, including murder, sex offenses, and serious assaults, according to a report from Alpha News.

Most recently, the group bailed out a man who was arrested for attacking a woman in a bar bathroom. After being bailed out, he was charged with committing lewd acts in front of children outside of a school.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund seeks to “abolish cash bail in Minnesota” and believes the criminal justice system “was designed to maintain and uphold white supremacy.”

Franson noted that bail acts as a deterrence and ensures “the reappearance of the accused on their court date.”

“By paying a defendant’s bail, the Minnesota Freedom Fund is literally handing these criminals a get out of jail free card,” she said. “Many of these defendants go on to commit more heinous, violent crimes after their release. The BANE Act will stop organizations, like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, who support dangerous criminals so we can make our communities safer.”

The Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation last year that sought to prevent organizations from posting bail on behalf of repeat violent offenders. Democratic senators criticized the proposal, in some cases praising the Minnesota Freedom Fund for “doing God’s work.”