Last Updated on February 17, 2022
A domestic abuser who was recently bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund was re-arrested for murder just outside Minneapolis. 47-year-old George Howard was charged with second degree murder after police say he fatally shot 38-year-old Luis Damian Martinez Ortiz in a road rage incident last Sunday. Howard, a Minneapolis resident, was caught on surveillance video in an altercation with the victim and later admitted to the shooting, say police.
Just weeks earlier, Howard was bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund after an earlier arrest. He was released on $11,500 bond on charges stemming from a domestic assault case last month, according to Fox News. Howard was also barred from owning a firearm due to prior convictions at the time of the shooting.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund acknowledged their role in paying Howard’s bail in a now-deleted tweet. “We are aware of reports of the tragic and fatal shooting in Minneapolis earlier this week allegedly involving George Howard, an individual the Minnesota Freedom Fund had previously provided with bail support,” the organization tweeted. As National File previously reported, the group, linked to the sitting vice president, also helped to bail out an accused pedophile last September.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) has a stated goal of bailing out suspected criminals, as well as immigrants detained by ICE. The group used to pull in just $110,000 a year in donations but raised over $30 million following the George Floyd riots in June, 2020. MFF received donations from several celebrities immediately following the riots, including Justin Timberlake, Drake, Seth Rogen and Steve Carrell. Kamala Harris also tweeted out support for the organization. “If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota,” Harris tweeted in June, 2020.
If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota. https://t.co/t8LXowKIbw
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 1, 2020
Tonja Honsey, the main director of MFF, was named a Soros Justice fellow in 2019. “The Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowships fund lawyers, advocates, grassroots organizers, researchers, and others with unique perspectives to undertake full-time criminal justice reform projects at the local, state, and national levels,” reads The Open Society Foundations’ website. Fellows, like Honsey, are awarded between $94,500 and $127,500, depending on level of experience.
In the weeks following the riots, MFF was heavily criticized by new donors and supporters after it was revealed that just 1% of the new donations had been used to bail out rioters. “Without jeopardizing the safety of the folks we bailed out we paid well over $200k in the weeks since the uprising alone,” the group tweeted on June 15, 2020. Since May 25 of that year, the group had received over $35 million in donations.