Discover, one of the nation’s top credit card issuers, told Forbes it has blocked its users’ ability to make any donations on the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo which has raised more than $380,000 for accused Kenosha teen shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, who has garnered support from the far-right as a national debate rages on vigilante justice.
In emails Wednesday and Thursday, the credit card company said it “terminated that merchant for operating regulation violations,” adding, “we regularly review merchants for operating regulations violations; turning off merchants for violations is a typical process for us, but one we don’t make public.”
Discover declined to detail what the GiveSendGo.com violation was, but added “we appreciate that terminating this merchant acceptance agreement may be an inconvenience to a small number of our customers; Discover makes no judgment about customer’s use of their funds; as a payments processor, we … terminate acceptance only in instances in which they’re found to be in violation of our operating regulations.”
The announcement comes as 9,107 donations have gone into GiveSendGo.com — totaling $384,797 — for Rittenhouse’s defense, after he was charged with shooting three protesters in Kenosha, killing two; his attorney has said he plans to fight the charges and may not waive extradition from the 17-year-old’s home state of Illinois, where he is being held in juvenile detention, to Wisconsin, where he faces charges as an adult.
In 2017, days after a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly, Discover and rival Visa said they had stopped allowing websites run by hate groups to use their cards to accept payments, with Discover citing the potential for violence; Visa could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Rittenhouse traveled from his home in Northern Illinois to Kenosha on August 25, in the midst of protests that rocked the city following the police shooting days earlier of Jacob Blake, a Black man who is paralyzed from the waist down according to his family.
The Rittenhouse campaign was launched by the “Friends of the Rittenhouse family, Atlanta, Georgia” and updates are posted by “Rob,” who could not be reached for comment; earlier this week, GiveSendGo told Forbes its original payment processor “bowed to the threats to silence us and stopped processing for that account,” forcing it to switch to another processor.
Rittenhouse has garnered considerable support from the far right and the shootings — which came after he traveled to Wisconsin to guard a mechanic’s shop — have added fuel to debates about protests, property destruction, vigilante justice and self-defense. His attorney John Pierce has made it clear he plans to fight the charges on self-defense and constitutional grounds — though the criminal complaint did not state that any of the three men shot had a weapon at the time of the shootings. Rittenhouse is charged in Wisconsin with five felonies including first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide (which can carry a life prison term), attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Rittenhouse also was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, after he carried out the shootings with what was identified in the criminal complaint as a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle.
$2,217,030: The Rittenhouse effort is one of two major fundraising campaigns stemming from the Kenosha shootings, that came as the nation continued to be rocked by months of protests over police violence against Black people and systemic racism. As of Thursday a GoFundMe campaign to support Blake, launched by his mother, had collected $2,217,030. Money raised in the Rittenhouse campaign is being turned over to a new Pierce-backed foundation, launched in Texas, called #FightBack. An employee of GiveSendGo said the Rittenhouse fundraising effort is the largest and fastest-growing campaign in the history of the site, which launched in 2014. The pace of growth for the fundraiser had slowed by Thursday. On Tuesday, the five-day-old campaign had raised $326,789 and an update expressed hope that the tally could climb to $500,000.
Wednesday night was the first night in a week that Kenosha was not under a curfew order. Sgt. David Wright of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department said there were 10 arrests, including three for disorderly conduct, throughout the county overnight. He could not say how many were in the area that had seen most of the unrest, a stretch toured Tuesday by President Trump. The arrest total was less than half the 27 people arrested between Monday and Tuesday. Democratic candidate Joe Biden heads to Kenosha Thursday.