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People Crowdfunded Nearly $1M to Help Charlottesville Victims With Health Bills

A makeshift memorial of flowers and a photo of victim, Heather Heyer, sits in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Heyer died when a car rammed into a group of people who were protesting the presence of white supremacists who had gathered in the city for a rally.
Steve Helber/AP

More than 34 people were injured while protesting a rally of neo Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

Three people died, including Heather Heyer, a local activist who was run over by a car that plowed into a crowd, and the police officers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, who died in a helicopter crash, while dozens more were injured.

Amid all the outrage at the shocking display of hatred that roiled the otherwise quiet college town, many people recognized what could have easily been overlooked — the victims of the violence last weekend also face medical and funeral expenses.

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, one of which, Global Goal 4, calls for universal access to affordable and adequate health care. You can take action on them here.

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Some of the victims, including 20-year old Natalie Romero who suffered a fractured skull,  had no health insurance and face exorbitant bills.

And so crowdfunding efforts began to appear to help families and individuals cover the costs.

Nearly $1 million has been raised across dozens of campaigns on the crowdfunding site Go Fund Me.

The biggest single campaigns were for Heather Heyer’s family and Dre Harris, who was bludgeoned nearly to death by white supremacists. Another campaign by the Democratic Socialists of America has raised $191,158. Dozens of other campaigns can be found here.

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"This past weekend, the whole country was rocked by the senseless violence and acts of hatred in Charlottesville," Rob Solomon, GoFundMe CEO, told USA Today. "In the wake of these horrific events, donations have poured in to provide support and assistance to the victims of the attacks. More than 20,000 donors from all 50 states have made it clear: They stand on the side of love and unity in the face of bigotry and fear."

Increasingly, people throughout the US turn to crowdfunding campaigns to cover medical and funeral expenses, which highlights the staggering prevalence of financial insecurity.

In fact, one study found that 63% of Americans would not be able to withstand a sudden expense of $500.

Medical bills, especially for the uninsured, can quickly rise into the tens of thousands of dollars.

After the mass slaughter of 49 people at the Orlando night club, Pulse, hospitals waived medical expenses for victims, recognizing that the bills could further immiserate people.  

Dre Harris, for instance, asked for $50,000 to cover medical expenses for “a concussion, an ulnar fracture...eight staples in my head... a laceration across my right eyebrow, abrasions on my knees & elbows, and a chipped tooth.”

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He has received more than triple that amount, which will go toward paying his health bills, and the rest he will keep. After all, people are also donating because they want to commend him for bravely standing up to hatred.

Kim Edwards, one of 6,033 contributors to Harris’s campaign, donated $10. As she wrote on the campaign page:

“I'm wishing you a speedy recovery, and hoping there are not any lasting effects from your injury. You, and all the counter-protesters are brave heroes. Godspeed.”