Black Student Union raises nearly $10,000 to support protesters’ legal, bail fees

Updated: June 5, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.

The Black Student Union has raised more than $9,500 in three days to support three organizations working to cover arrested protesters’ bails and legal fees.

The fundraiser, which invited students to Venmo BSU’s Vice President of Community Service and Outreach Kylie Foster to have their name tagged underneath a slot with a donation amount on a Bingo board, launched Monday with a goal to raise $5,000 for the organizations. Students raised $9,730.68, surpassing the goal, for Black Lives Matter D.C., the National Bail Fund Network and Freedom Fighters D.C., according to a statement published Wednesday.

The group organized the fundraiser on Instagram, encouraging students and student organizations to either donate the amounts listed on the board or “sponsor” their own board, buying an entire board’s worth of slots, according to the fundraiser’s rules. Those who chose to sponsor a bingo board would post the board on their Instagram pages and donate any money generated back to BSU, the rules state.

In the statement, BSU thanked those who participated in supporting its advocacy efforts and included additional links to the organization’s donation page for participants to donate.

“Please do not stop speaking up, protesting, signing petitions, calling your representatives and being the amazing people that you want our future society to have,” the statement said. “We see you and we recognize you.”

Devon Bradley, the BSU president, said the support he saw from members of the community who participated in the fundraiser made him feel “empowered.” He said the executive board did not expect the extent of the bingo board’s success when they first decided to launch the fundraiser.

“I think this was such a show to not only the greater D.C. area but our University,” Bradley said. “We put our money, literally where our mouth is. When we organize, we unite.”

Foster, BSU’s community service and outreach vice president, said 20 student organizations and more than 600 people contributed to BSU’s fundraiser before it ended Wednesday. She said the executive board members initially had not set a goal, but after raising $2,000 on Monday, they decided that $5,000 would be an “obtainable” goal.

Foster said she was surprised to wake up Wednesday morning to see the fundraiser had collected up to $9,000. She said the organization is grateful for the students who participated but finds it “appalling” that money needs to be raised to fund bail and legal fees for protesters trying to change reality for the black community.

“Though the success of the fundraiser in itself is a reason to celebrate, it’s equally if not more upsetting that our reality is still concentrated on the dismantling of police brutality and racism around the country,” Foster said in an email.

This post has been updated to clarify the following:
This post has been updated to clarify Kylie Foster’s title within BSU.

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