Right-wing political operatives Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl say they have created a fund, supposedly seeded with $25,000, to pay the legal defense fees of Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who killed George Floyd, a black man whose death has set off protests in Minneapolis and cities around the country.
Floyd was pinned to the ground by multiple police officers, including Chauvin, who placed a knee on his neck for nearly 8 minutes, while Floyd told officers he couldn’t breathe and bystanders begged Chauvin to remove his knee. His death, which was the latest example of police brutality against black men caught on tape, has led to outrage among the black community and beyond as well as clashes between police and protesters in the Midwestern city.
A press release announcing the Burkman and Wohl’s fund claimed that the “career law enforcement officer has come under intense public scrutiny” following “the routine arrest of a suspect.” Burkman and Wohl, who created Project 1599—which appears to be little more than a renamed effort to spew conspiracy theories and false information about opponents of the right-wing—say the fund will pay for “legal expenses, investigators and security costs incurred by the Chauvin family during this trying time.”
While Burkman called Chauvin, who was arrested Friday, “a good and honorable man,” the press release appears aimed at casting doubt on Floyd, stating, “The duo expects much more to become known about the alleged victim.”
It also attacks the mostly black protesters as “thugs” and suggests the video, which showed Floyd’s death over nearly 8 minutes, was inconclusive. “Left wing activists and local thugs have participated in violent riots following the release of low-quality video showing part of the arrest,” the press release states.
On Parler, a social media site popular with the right—particularly those permanently kicked off of Twitter like Wohl—Wohl tried to cast doubt on the cause of Floyd’s death. “I am told that early indications show George Floyd died during the arrest from a pre-existing condition, hence why the officers haven’t been arrested And no, it wasn’t COVID 19,” Wohl wrote Friday morning.
Responding to another Parler post claiming that “Not a single Father’s Day card was stolen” among the looting Thursday, Wohl simply wrote, “True.”
“Did white people riot, loot and burn down buildings when a young black man beat the daylights out of an elderly white man in a nursing home?” he asked in another post. In another, Wohl attempted to deride the black protesters’ intelligence, writing, “How many of the black race rioters in LA could point out Minneapolis on a map?”
Wohl and Burkman have long peddled conspiracy theories and false information. Most often their targets are opponents of President Donald Trump, who himself went to Twitter Thursday night to call the protesters “thugs” and threaten violence.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the two right-wing provocateurs tried to pay a woman to claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top immunologist and a target of right-wing trolls, had assaulted her. As Right Wing Watch reported earlier this month, the Arizona attorney general is “actively pursuing collection efforts” against Wohl, who owes more than $38,000 in fines for a scheme that misled investors.