Charlottesville rally leaders used PayPal to organize event

Charlottesville rally leaders used PayPal to organize event
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White nationalists used PayPal in the fundraising efforts for their rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

White nationalists such as Jason Kessler, the head organizer of the "Unite the Right" rally that turned violent on Saturday, used their PayPal accounts to receive money that went toward the event, according to the SPLC.

Other prominent white nationalists at the rally in Charlottesville this past weekend, including Richard Spencer, also use PayPal to fund their operations, the SPLC’s report says.

Spencer, for example, collects donations with a PayPal account tied to the National Policy Institute — a think tank he runs that advances white supremacist ideals — and AltRight.com.

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Kessler, Spencer and other white supremacists' use of PayPal comes despite the platform’s “acceptable use of policy,” which bans the “promotion of hate, violence, racial intolerance or the financial exploitation of a crime.”

At least one group, the League of South, was previously banned from PayPal. But the group's founder and president, Michael Hill, reportedly bypassed this by collecting funds through his personal account.

PayPal said in statement emailed to The Hill that they "consistently enforced" their use standards and work to keep hate, violence and racial intolerance off their platform.

"PayPal was appalled by the events that transpired  and our hearts go out to the people of Charlottesville, the families of those who lost their lives, and all who have been touched by this unacceptable hatred and violence," a company spokesperson said. "In advance of this past weekend’s horrific incidents, PayPal banned many individuals and organizations that were associated with the events in Charlottesville from transacting using our platform."

Prior to the rally, Kessler and white nationalists also used Facebook to coordinate. The day before the rally on Saturday, though, the company deleted the official event page for the rally.

White supremacist figures have frequently run into trouble fundraising through mainstream crowdfunding or payment sites, inspiring some to launch rival sites to process payments.

This story was updated at 6:15 p.m.