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A young Black man is under arrest as protesters clash with police near Philadelphia's City Hall on May 30, 2020. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donors contributed millions of dollars to city bail funds during nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: The funds are independent organizations that help arrested people bail out of jail and advocate for ending cash bail in courts around the United States.

How it works: Most jurisdictions require jailed defendants to put up cash or property assurance they will return to court.

  • If the defendant does not appear, the court keeps the bond and issues a warrant for the person's arrest.
  • More than 550,000 people in the U.S. are currently behind bars awaiting trial or sentencing because they cannot afford to post bail, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Bail systems disproportionally punish poor people and communities of color, as Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to lack the means to post bail than whites, according to the American Bar Association.

The big picture: Donations from people around the world have poured into organizations from Los Angeles to New York City to press for bail reform or to provide the collateral itself to free people while they await trial.

  • Arrests during the protests raised the visibility of the bond system and its inherent inequities, and Black Lives Matter supporters have demanded that states end cash bail systems.

By the numbers: The Minnesota Freedom Fund raised within four days more than $20 million from donations around the world, according to The New York Times. The fund said it helped pay bail for demonstrators who were arrested during Floyd protests in the state.

Yes, but: The Minnesota Freedom Fund received criticism on social media platforms last week after it announced that it had only contributed “well over” $200,000 to bail payments in the weeks after the protests began, the New York Times.

  • Some contributors demanded that the organization provide more oversight into how it spent donations, while others defended the organization and questioned how a small organization could spend millions of dollars in a matter of weeks.
  • "To say again: we are paying, and have paid, all protest bail that's come our way," the Minnesota Freedom Fund said on Twitter. "There are a lot more people in jail on bail. Now, we can help on a scale impossible last month."

Of note: Thomas Lane, a former Minneapolis police officer who was charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Floyd, was released from jail last week after posting a $750,000 bond.

Go deeper

Biden's pick to lead major banking regulator drops out

Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden's pick to head one of the country's most powerful banking regulators is dropping out of consideration for the post, according to a statement from Biden that accepted the withdrawal.

Why it matters: Saule Omarova, nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, faced a tough path to confirmation — with opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Judge temporarily blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 6 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide.

Why it matters: It's the latest setback in the Biden administration's rollout of COVID vaccine requirements. Federal judges in two states temporarily barred the administration from enforcing mandates for millions of workers last week.

Biden threatens Putin

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."

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