A backlash has begun over the GoFundMe campaign raising money for Adam Skelly, owner of Adamson Barbecue.
The fundraiser has pulled in almost $300,000 for Skelly’s legal expenses after the 33-year-old opened his eatery for indoor dining last week despite Toronto’s anti-COVID lockdown rules.
While crowds have turned up outside the Etobicoke restaurant to show support for Skelly, just as many are disgusted that GoFundMe has given Skelly the platform to raise money — for breaking the law when he opened his restaurant three days running. On Thursday, he was arrested outside the BBQ spot in a mob and media melee and now faces several charges including operating without a licence, holding an illegal gathering, and violating indoor dining rules.
Many people are appalled to see the GoFundMe campaign continue to raise big bucks for Skelly at a time when so many people are out of work and so many small businesses have shut down and followed the letter of the law. It didn’t help when dozens — many without masks — tied up the Yonge and Dundas intersection on Saturday with an anti-lockdown protest.
Now a change.org petition asking for the GoFundMe campaign to be taken down is gathering steam.
The petition notes that raising money for Skelly’s defence is “setting a bad precedent for others, and giving money to a “rich kid” instead of to people and small businesses who actually need it.
“He has made decisions in which he knew there would be consequences – and he should pay for them himself!” the petition says.
More than 2,100 people had signed the petition by the noon-hour Tuesday.
The Skelly GoFundMe organizer has stated that the fundraiser will not be dismantled.
“On the contrary, this campaign is legal, philanthropic, and both the beneficiary and purpose of the campaign are crystal clear,” the organizer says on the GoFundMe page.
The money will be used for “Adam Skelly’s legal defence in support of the rights of small business owners to live, work and do business like their big-box counterparts.”
Asked by email if they have ever turned down a client or suspended a campaign already underway, a GoFundMe spokesperson responded that the fundraiser in question, “Is within our terms of service.”
Those terms of servicemake it clear that GoFundMe is merely a platform and has no opinion about who is raising what for whom: “You, as a Donor, must make the final determination as to the value and appropriateness of contributing to any User, Campaign, or event.”
The GoFundMe spokesperson stated, “It’s important to know that the platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means funds are guaranteed to go to the right place or donors will get a refund.”