This a great article, but, for me, it misses a vital component which may shed some light on the reasons why crowdfunding was done the way it was.
Five minutes of Googling the people credited with being founders of Reclaim These Streets reveals that that are all political campaigners in one form or another. They were manifestly not just a group of ordinary women that felt moved by Sarah Everard’s disappearance and death and wanted to channel their emotional response into action; they had a political motive from the outset.
There’s nothing wrong with forming public pressure groups — in many ways, they’re essential to a properly functioning democracy — but in this case, they appear to have tried to cloak their political motivation by presenting it as a genuine, organic, grassroots coming-togetherness.
I’ve seen this several times over the years first hand. Reclaim These Streets had all the hallmarks of an astroturf operation: slick PR, rapid access to the Mayor of London, and legal representation by firms that have previously been linked with other political campaigns and direct action groups. An ordinary group of people wouldn’t have all that so quickly.
Which brings me to the crowdfunder. Political campaigns like this, that want to give themselves an air of grassroots authenticity, very often start crowdfunders as a way of generating cash to spend on campaign materials, lawyers, transporting activists to protests and so on. I’ve never seen an obviously political campaign raise funds for charity via a crowdfunder — for all the reasons you mention, it simply doesn’t make sense.
As to the political motives behind Reclaim These Streets, one can only speculate. But if I were a betting man, judging by the timing, I’d argue it was all about generating media coverage and associated collateral with which to oppose the new policing bill that’s currently progressing through parliament and that was debated just two days after the vigil / protest; I suspect there was a deliberate plan to try and provoke arrests just to get the sort of photo we saw splashed all over the front pages on Sunday and Monday, enabling the campaigners to seize the news agenda and use the airtime and column inches to push their narrative.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with that in principle, but I find it distasteful that they appear to have hijacked the tragedy of Sarah Everard’s death to do so.
With her family’s approval, it would be nice to see a genuine movement established that uses Sarah’s tragedy to galvanise people in a more positive and less obviously political manner.