The GoFundMe account set up for the owners of a small-town Indiana pizza shop, forced to close because of death threats, zoomed to $842,387 Friday evening before coming to a close in an outpouring of support from Christians and non-Christians alike.
But the barrage of online attacks continued against the pizzeria owners who stood firm in their faith and said they would not cater a same-sex wedding.
Change.org, a leftist site which promotes itself as the “go-to site for Web uprisings,” started a petition drive to have the account shut down, while a bastion of the progressive media, Salon, issued a statement on Twitter lampooning the owners.
Memories Pizza owners Crystal and Kevin O’Connor were forced to close their 9-year-old restaurant In Walkerton, Indiana, (population 2,144) when Crystal answered questions from a local TV reporter about Indiana’s proposed new Religious Freedom Act. She told the reporter who had contacted her that she would have no problem serving homosexuals in her restaurant but it would be against her Christian principles to cater a same-sex wedding.
Within hours she started receiving hundreds of threats on the restaurant’s Facebook page and on Twitter, promising everything from boycotts to physical harm. One woman, a girls’ golf coach at nearby Concord High School, threatened in a tweet to burn the family’s restaurant down. She is now under investigation for possible criminal charges.
The threats from Thursday turned into smears on Friday.
Salon, an online magazine, joined the fray, putting out a tweet that the O’Connors “got exactly what they deserved.” The tweet was taken down but not before it was captured in screenshots.
Dana Loesch, an on-air media personality for the Blaze and host of her own radio show, helped launch the GoFundMe campaign April 1 when she interviewed Crystal O’Connor, who told Loesch she had gone into hiding out of fear for her family’s safety. She said she also had been suspended from a second job as a result of her comment to the reporter.
“I have absolutely no income coming in, at all,” O’Connor said.
The interview went viral, prompting thousands of people nationwide to respond by opening their pocketbooks. By 6:30 p.m. Friday more than 27,000 people had donated more than $824,000. Most of the donations were between $10 and $50.
Change.org launched its move to pressure the GoFundMe website to shut down the account but apparently had no success as it remained up for the duration of the day.
Loesch could not be reached for comment Friday. But she posted the following message on her website under the title “Hateful Progressives Start Petition to Destroy Memories Pizza Fund!”
“In addition to the threats of death, violence, arson and robbery to Memories Pizza in Indiana, we now have a change.org petition to shut down the funding page that we started a few days ago which has now amassed nearly $700,000 for the suffering family that owns the small business. Today is the final day to donate and by the looks of it, their petition isn’t going anywhere soon, but stranger things have happened with the left pressuring funding pages. We urge you to continue to support the donations page, Christian and non-Christian conservatives including many gays have been supportive of our project. Thanks to The Dana Show fans and the other hosts around the nation that have lent a hand to this effort. We are humbled by the response.”
An employee of CBS News 6 in Richmond, Virginia, named Alix Bryan tweeted: “Indiana pizzeria raises $17K in an hour by being bigoted?”
Bryan then tweeted that she was reporting the GoFundMe account for fraud “just in case.”
But support for the O’Connors came from some unexpected places.
One woman, who describes herself as a lesbian from Iowa, posted the following video on YouTube condemning the verbal attacks and issued an apology to the O’Connor family from the “gay community.”
But the threats just kept coming. The online review site Yelp had to delete more than 6,000 reviews for using threatening or abusive language against Memories Pizza. As fast as they could remove them, more appeared. And the threats came not only against the O’Connors and their shop but against those who set up the GoFundMe account — Loesch and one of her colleagues.
On Thursday, Lawrence B. Jones III, a contributor to the Blaze TV and who came up with the idea to start the GoFundMe page for Memories Pizza, said on Twitter that pro-gay progressives began targeting his family, the Examiner.com reported.
“Now they are threatening my family!” Jones said on Twitter. The tweet included an email Jones received through the GoFundMe site. The message said that Jones “won’t see it coming.”
In another tweet, Jones said critics of his effort also targeted his mother. “Did your mom enjoy her morning internet email check today?” the message read.
Others set out to prove that those tearing into the O’Connors for not betraying their faith, were driven by a hatred for one thing and one thing only – Christianity.
Steven Crowder of LouderWithCrowder.com posed as a gay man and entered a Muslim bakery in Dearborn, Michigan, with a hidden camera. He asked the woman behind the counter, who was wearing a hijab, to bake him a cake for his same-sex wedding. Watch the results below.