The State of FFDC: Addressing Our Community

Freedom Fighting Family,

The purpose of this open letter is to address recent developments involving the organization, update the community on how FFDC will operate moving forward, and express gratitude for the support we have received thus far, all while being as forthcoming and transparent as possible. We are confident that this letter will definitively answer any questions about the organization and its intentions, and hope you will read it in its entirety if you have concerns about either.

Freedom Fighters DC Finances

As we view the most pressing matter at hand as the crux of many accusations that surround our organization, we see fit to begin with the subject of funding. There have been rumblings amongst other organizations and individuals that claim we have misappropriated funds. The nature of these allegations was so inflammatory that they grew to eventually claim that FFDC is not spreading its money ethically, going so far as to encompass embezzlement at the hands of core organizational members. These accusations, hurtful as they are, could not be further from the truth. In the interest of transparency, we have provided an itemized report that will disclose the following: organizational spending, the allocation of the money, past accounting practices, and future funding plans.

In addition, we will be providing detailed quarterly financial reports to eliminate the potential for any misunderstanding in the future.

As you all may know, FFDC started on May 28th, 2020. We began accepting donations, both monetary and physical, around June 1st. As a result of that time period being the height of activism for most folx due to George Floyd’s murder and nationwide protesting efforts, we received a substantial amount of support from the community. We started with a financial committee of four individuals: one person took care of Venmo, two handled Cash App, and one person worked on securing a bank account. The first few weeks under this system were particularly trying. Handling donations as a newly formed organization required a great deal of trust in each other; unfortunately, our system ultimately failed.

We fell victim to theft at the hands of org members twice. We have also been blackmailed by another org within this movement due to a member of the committee divulging our financial situation to outsiders. As abolitionists, we sought recourse through accountability, arranging meetings in order to make all parties involved whole. Unfortunately, all of these instances were unsuccessful. Rather than contact the police or subject members of our community to the atrocities of the criminal justice system, we had little choice but to absorb the considerable financial losses.

In light of these events, we admittedly grew distrustful with regard to our funds. We decided to dissolve the finance committee and implement a new, more secure system. We hired an accountant to assist with records, help maintain our mutual aid’s 501c3 status, and provide additional security. The only people aware of account balances under the new system would be the accountant. We viewed keeping those with access to money anonymous as the best way to protect them from blackmail, harm, or theft, and provide security for the organization. In order to keep track of what was spent, funding requests were conducted via itemized proposals on which there would be an approval vote (in the interest of full transparency, we will note that 90% of proposals were approved).

It should also be noted that we have not received an influx of donations since July, operating from the amount of money we received in June.

On the topic of spending, we wish to be as forthcoming as we safely can be. Though we recently gifted all of our storage units to another organization, storage fees totalled $3,000 a month due to the overwhelming amount of support we received in the form of PPE and other mutual aid donations. Outlined below is a short list detailing how we’ve spent our money. This info will also be compiled into a graphic to be posted at a later date.

  • We have temporarily housed two Black single mothers and their children.
  • One incurred over $2,000 worth of damage in both of the homes in which she was housed, expenses that we covered.
  • Both mothers were provided airbnbs for over a month over the summer, totalling close to $8,000 in housing fees, not including Instacart deliveries and Ubers for which the organization paid.
  • We have given five $750 grants to Black LGBTQIA+ organizations.
  • We have given seven $750 grants to Black womxn/families who approached our mutual aid account in need of dire assistance.
  • We have given ten $250 grants to Black families requesting fundraising amplifications.
  • We have never charged our members any dues.
  • In refusal to unethically use donations, we charged $20 a person to cover the space for internal conferences.
  • We have given four $1,500 donations to families who have lost someone to gun violence.
  • We have provided countless Ubers at jail support for the newly released to retrieve their personal belongings from their district and return home safely.
  • We have provided meals to our unhoused communities.
  • We have provided countless tents, sleeping bags, gift cards for food, and blankets to encampment actions.
  • We have “adopted” a high school and funded a large portion of their Class of 2020 graduation.
  • We have donated thousands of dollars to other organizations within the movement to continue their work.

Founders

FFDC was formed by seven individuals who met on Twitter and responded to a tweet asking about protesting in the DC area after the murder of George Floyd. While FFDC’s first few actions were seamless, one of the founders (F.A.) began to display erratic behavior, frequently making comments about their mental health, stress, and the need to step away from the work. In response to these concerns, various members of the organization repeatedly encouraged them to take whatever time and space they needed, constantly checking in on F.A.

At a collaborative action in June, F.A. arrived intoxicated, a decision that prompted multiple complaints and voices of concern from our volunteer network and collaborators. During a subsequent conversation between the other five board members and F. A., F.A. disclosed some personal information about their mental state, stating that they did not feel fit to lead. When asked if they felt the need to step down from the board, F.A. responded affirmatively. They were immediately offered mental health services, an offer that was repeated by other members of the organization individually; F.A. insisted that their own therapist and resources would be sufficient. FFDC stressed the fact that F.A. would be welcomed back whenever they felt prepared to return and that resources would be provided at any time absent questions or judgement.

Unfortunately, F.A. continues to post statements about their displeasure with FFDC, claiming they were purposefully pushed out. F.A. maintains that a coup was orchestrated in order to remove them from the organization because of their skin color. While FFDC is devastated that F.A. feels this way, their characterization of events has no basis in reality. Though several members have repeatedly reached out to F.A. in an attempt to discuss these accusations, no response was received, despite multiple attempts; we have discovered that contact has been summarily blocked. Our offer to aid with resources and support has stood since it was made — and will continue to do so until such a time that it is no longer necessary — as FFDC wishes nothing but healing for a member who was integral to our founding.

A Harmful Split

We are grateful to all of the people who helped build Freedom Fighters DC, and fervently regret the manner in which the organizational split was handled on our end. As a newly formed organization, we are constantly working to iron out the kinks and gradually build an organizational structure under which we operate most effectively; we are far from perfect, and require time to figure out how we function together and how to best get the work done without hiccups.

When asking for grace, however, it is imperative to admit shortcomings, and we want to unequivocally state that we have failed both ourselves and our family in the past. We are striving every day to build a harm-reducing structure within the organization, and are hopeful that what we have learned through experience will ultimately prove beneficial to our goals of longevity and sustainability.

As some may know, we underwent a large organizational split in October due to personal issues, issues with hierarchical structures (namely, a board of directors), and accountability measures. In agreement with those who left, we dissolved the board, understanding that such a decision-making body is reflective of the same oppressive system that we are trying to abolish. Five members comprised the board, all of whom were co-founders of the organization.

Prior to dissolution, the decision making process was extensive, but necessary to avoid dysfunction. Proposals were sent to our project coordinator, then the board for funding review and potential approval. Most votes not involving funding were left to a 67% general body vote followed by a ⅗ board vote. We felt this process was conducive to peerlessly quick decisions; instead, it caused harm and effected feelings of inadequacy within our organization.

This discrepancy in perception caused a collapse following the dissolution of the board and organizational departure of a few members. Most general body members felt abandoned in that moment, and started their own organization (Organization X) more reflective of their stances on power, decision making, and structural ideals.

As this split was and remains the impetus for most of the negative things circulating about FFDC, we will try to address everything we can.

Shortly thereafter, four co-founders realized that 501c3 tax implications prevented their dissociation from FFDC as a mutual aid entity to which their official names were attached; resultantly, roughly forty former members joined Organization X. Remaining close with many of the members of that organization who had become more family than anything else, FFDC decided to provide extensive resources in order to facilitate the organization’s inception.

As referenced earlier, Organization X received four fully stocked storage units, the contents of which included, among other items: PPE, helmets, goggles, ‘go bags,’ shelving units, multiple portable power banks, baby formula, tents, sleeping bags, hygiene items, gift cards, megaphones, hand sanitizer, socks, materials and games for children, first-aid supplies and equipment, respirators, and eight GoPros that were personally donated by an FFDC family member. The approximated cost of the items in the units was $10,000; we also covered storage fees through the end of the year on top of contributing a significant monetary donation. These gestures were conducted in a good faith attempt to rectify harm in the name of accountability.

FFDC provided an opportunity to meet and discuss distribution of resources following the split, but never received a response. Though Organization X initially denied the existence of such an offer, FFDC has since received confirmation from a knowledgeable member that the offer was intentionally ignored.

Unfortunately, rather than resolve our issues privately, Organization X issued a press release seeking accountability for the harm FFDC inflicted upon them via the split.

While FFDC was the more established organization, our personal feelings were that of loss, trauma, and betrayal perpetrated on the internet by family whom we loved dearly. Responding in kind to a personal dispute taken public was something we felt would prove counterproductive to the movement and community to which we had dedicated ourselves for months; accordingly, FFDC has never slandered any other organization working toward Black liberation. Our staunch aversion to making any statement that might negatively impact participants in this movement has kept our exclusionary focus fixated on the work about which we are so passionate; recent developments that have threatened both our members and our work have forced us to reluctantly break our silence.

On November 17th, an anonymous page (@ accountability_todaydc) posted a statement alleging egregious offenses committed by Organization X. In short, the post claimed that Organization X was at the forefront of an active smear campaign designed to defame our character.

Falsehoods surrounding our merits and finances as an organization were spread to members in the community in an attempt to damage our reputation. Organization X targeted our mutual aid partners and alliances, hoping they would sever ties with FFDC.

It was alleged that we withheld information about an arrested comrade, and that members of this organization joked about DOXXING US.

For those who aren’t aware, doxxing is a harmful tactic mostly utilized by alt-righters to essentially publish private personal information on the internet for malicious purposes. Doxxing usually results in loss of jobs, online harassment, and potential violence at places of residence.

We took this post to be accurate because most of the allegations lined up with information we already had. We were disgusted, scared, and, most of all, extremely hurt. We have spent most of our time over the past few months bonding with the individuals in Organization X on a personal level almost every day. To learn that they would stoop so low as to even joke about doxxing us simply because we grew apart hurts immensely.

We have single mothers, sole providers for families, and people without family in FFDC. Being doxxed is an extreme, reactionary behavior that will not be tolerated.

There have been multiple attempts to hack our bank account and social media platforms by Organization X. The attempt toward our bank account was unsuccessful, but members of Organization X successfully locked us out of our Twitter for four days by logging onto our hootsuite and changing the recovery phone number to one of theirs. This vindictive, malicious behavior has been perpetrated against us since our split; we chose to not speak out about it publicly.

Last Thursday, we provided Organization X with a private statement that responded to the qualms listed in their press release, and addressed the allegations in the accountability_todaydc post. We did our best to explain why our split happened, apologize for missteps in leadership, and detail our thought process through it all in an attempt to humanize the situation at hand.

We were met with more harassment.

There was no acknowledgment of the potential doxxing, no acknowledgment of the rumors spread to our allies, and no acknowledgement of the mental anguish they inflicted upon us. We have been relentlessly harassed and threatened for the past few weeks, and being on the receiving end of these actions is exhausting. We are devastated, and were never given the time to take a break and think about how we feel about being harmed by people we love over and over and over again. We are trying to walk righteously as we work through this trauma, but some rumors are getting out of hand, and need to be addressed.

We would like to note that we had a vetting process. This process entailed an in-depth interview and mandatory abolitionist readings. During this process, we told prospective members about our leadership structure and decision-making process; everyone was aware that we had a board consisting of co-founders. We have had folx enter the org under false pretenses that are now apart of other organizations that actively engage in harming us.

As evolving abolitionists, we unreservedly believe in accountability; we understand the harm that our quick decisions have caused, and we want to acknowledge that we have been making organizational strides to better ourselves as leaders and as people. Though we all make mistakes, we firmly believe that all people can be restored, and we will work tirelessly to ensure we remain accountable and the best community organization we can be. With that said, the disproportionate and harmful response from Organization X has taken a toll on FFDC’s current members, not only as activists, but as human beings. We would like all drama surrounding rumors that were inaccurately taken as true to cease.

As stated above, multiple attempts to reach out to Organization X and respond to allegations privately were met with public statements riddled with omissions of fact, falsehoods, and slander, all under the guise of wanting “transparency” for the community. FFDC’s sole reason for not responding publicly to what has clearly become harassment and slander is the knowledge that releasing proof that these allegations were false and intentionally harmful would cause irreversible harm to Organization X’s reputation in the community, and division within the movement.

However, after weeks of online harassment, firsthand accounts of attempts to blackball FFDC from our allies, and evidence of hacks of our social media platforms, it is evident that we can no longer stay silent and continually allow our name and reputation to be dragged through the mud.

Organization X has encouraged their followers to harass us, and encouraged the community we love deeply to de-platform us. Aside from the obvious harm to FFDC’s reputation and trust in the community, these malicious actions have caused a great deal of mental anguish to members of FFDC. These actions truly fall into the category of gaslighting, and Organization X should be held accountable for their relentless attempts to disrupt and harm the mental and emotional state of those in FFDC, as well as those whose support they attempted to manipulate away from our organization. The division that these actions have caused across the movement as a whole cannot be ignored. These malevolent actions have sown seeds of distrust, anger, and deep hurt, not only affecting our comrades, but directly taking away from the community we are all trying to serve.

Housing and Funding for Single Mothers

This claim extends from the circumstances surrounding FFDC’s assistance to two single Black mothers (who, for the sake of privacy, will be referred to as Womxn A and Womxn B), which began in August of this year and extended to early November.

In early August, a former board member of FFDC and co-lead of the Mutual Aid team agreed to house two single mothers and their children for one month each to buy FFDC time to help them each with their housing needs. Both were survivors of domestic abuse and did not have a safe place to live. FFDC secured two month-long airbnbs for the womxn. FFDC also set up Instacart deliveries for each at approximately $100 per week in groceries for each womxn, and various rideshares when they needed to run errands, attend interviews, etc.

During the weeks they were housed, FFDC also set up GoFundMes for each womxn, which were promoted heavily on our platforms in order to assist with their long-term housing needs. Their Cash App information was also sent to a large group chat in which many FFDC members donated to these womxn directly.

Womxn A was able to find an apartment on which she placed a down payment; she was also able to find a job during the time she was housed in the airbnb, though she continued to request financial assistance via Cash App in order to meet her everyday needs, and FFDC continued to amplify her GoFundMe.

Womxn B was accused of causing damage to the first first airbnb unit during her stay, for which, after an investigation with the unit owner, FFDC was held accountable.

On October 27th (post-split), Womxn B contacted the board member currently running FFDC’s mutual aid, sharing that she and her children were unhoused and in desperate need of a place to stay. FFDC found her a second airbnb within hours — sending her personal funds so that she and her children could get something to eat — and arranged for an Uber to the unit. The board member that was contacted then personally sent an additional $150 to cover laundry and grocery expenses. At that time, FFDC had also decided to do a small number of $750 grants to assist the community suffering from financial effects of COVID-19; Womxn B was given a $750 grant. We also began to re-amplify her GoFundMe, which raised over $2,000 in a few days.

Over the next few days, FFDC received numerous noise complaints from the airbnb owner. The owner then informed FFDC that she was going to pop in on Womxn B the following day; FFDC passed this information along to Womxn B.

Once the owner arrived at the unit, she found her apartment in shambles.

Womxn B was asked to leave immediately by the airbnb host; Womxn B then contacted the FFDC board member requesting additional funds for a hotel. FFDC denied her request, as she had just been given a $750 grant, and received over $200 personally from our board member and $2,000 in donations via GoFundMe within a week’s time. When asked if she still had the money sent a few days prior, she did not answer.

FFDC was held liable for the damages that ultimately cost close to $1,200.

On another note, Womxn A continued to request funds via Cash App from various members of FFDC on a sometimes daily basis. Claims that FFDC blocked her on Cash App are false; Womxn A was blocked on Cash App by an individual member, also a single parent, who had given over $400 of their personal money through Cash App requests. The member could no longer provide assistance, and was receiving multiple (as many as ten) Cash App requests a day.

FFDC amplified her GoFundMe account to solicit help for her and her children, garnering over $1,500 in a matter of a few days.

Arrested Comrades

Comrade X was arrested on grounds on November 3rd. On the day of his arrest, he had given his personal info (full name and DOB) to a member of FFDC for safety purposes. Upon arrest, Comrade X contacted two FFDC members to let them know he had been arrested, and to begin work on procuring legal support.

He did not contact members of any other organization at that time.

FFDC began working to get him support, contact his family (with whom another FFDC member is personal friends), and collect information about his whereabouts. FFDC researched what was needed for Comrade X, including court hearing dates, which were shared with members of Organization X. At the court hearing, both members of FFDC and Organization X were in attendance, and had the opportunity to meet with Comrade X’s father after the hearing.

Because of the personal relationship between FFDC and Comrade X’s family, Comrade X’s family asked FFDC to assist in the creation of a GoFundMe to cover any commissary or legal needs, and to support Comrade X after his release. The GoFundMe was created, a donation was made by FFDC to kickstart the endeavor, and the goal of $6,500 was exceeded within three days.

During this time, FFDC did all of the groundwork to get information on Comrade X’s case, contact information, mailing address, commissary funding, and more. All information was shared with Comrade X’s family, who stated that they greatly appreciated FFDC’s efforts. Organization X had several members reach out to FFDC in order to acquire information on Comrade X; FFDC freely disclosed all of the information it had gathered.

The following day, Organization X created a post removing FFDC’s name from the GoFundMe, and falsely implied that the work done on Comrade X’s behalf was theirs.

To be clear, FFDC’s only goal was to help Comrade X and his family. Members of FFDC have close personal relationships with Comrade X and his family that predate any organizational work. All of the legal work done by FFDC was shared with the community so that he could receive all support available during this trying time.

We are unsure why our efforts on behalf of our comrade were maliciously turned into a competition, and we are unclear why Organization X would intentionally operate under the false optics, claiming they did the work of others.

FFDC’s only focus continues to be supporting Comrade X and his family, both during and after his incarceration.

Support for Jail/Electoral College

There is no substantiated evidence to support the claim that FFDC supports either institution. FFDC is a widely known abolitionist group that emphasizes the abolition of police, ICE, prisons, capitalism, the electoral college, and the two-party system — to name a few.

FFDC and — more importantly — its members have been subject to baseless hatred, vitriol, and libel for months. We have done everything we can to ignore such slander in the name of the movement about which we so passionately care, only now supplying the facts once work in that movement has been willfully compromised. We, as an organization, remain wholeheartedly committed to the movement and the work that has been our priority since our founding; we desperately hope that this statement will set the proverbial record straight, and halt all of the abuse that our members have had to endure and constantly relive. Our dedication is and has always been to Black liberation, and the community that its realization would directly affect.

Thank you for listening.