Written by Randy C on February 12, 2024
A tale of generosity and compassion has taken a contentious turn as a GoFundMe campaign, aimed at aiding a homeless man in Washington, D.C., has been halted amidst revelations of his violent past. The crowdfunding platform has come under scrutiny for freezing over $400,000 raised by a college student for the homeless individual, sparking a debate about the ethics of fundraising for individuals with criminal histories.
Sanai Graden, a college student, shared her encounter with Alonzo Douglas Hebron, a homeless man, in a viral TikTok video. Graden’s video depicted her interaction with Hebron outside a Washington, D.C. grocery store, where he approached her and requested assistance in purchasing a cup of tea. After learning about Hebron’s homelessness and diagnosis of prostate cancer, Graden went above and beyond, paying for his medication, securing him a hotel room, and documenting her acts of kindness on social media.
Inspired by her encounter, Graden initiated a GoFundMe campaign to raise donations for Hebron’s benefit. The campaign quickly gained traction, attracting widespread attention from local news programs and social media platforms. Within days, the campaign amassed over $402,000 in donations before GoFundMe intervened and paused the fundraising efforts.
The momentum of the campaign came to an abrupt halt when a woman, recognizing Hebron from the news coverage, came forward with allegations of his violent past. The woman reported being attacked by Hebron in 2020, prompting GoFundMe to freeze the campaign in accordance with its Terms of Service, which prohibit fundraising for individuals with histories of violent crimes.
The decision by GoFundMe to freeze the campaign has sparked a wave of criticism, with many questioning the platform’s handling of the situation. TikToker Santana Cruise & Travel voiced her discontent, condemning GoFundMe for withholding the funds raised for Hebron. Critics argue that the actions of an individual’s past, in this case, a violent incident from four years ago, should not impede efforts to provide assistance to those in need.
Thoughts? Watch the video below.