Activists who raised $60,000 for Tamir Rice's family demand to know where the money went

An alternate fund has been established that will allow the family to access the money without involving the court

Published May 6, 2015 5:46PM (EDT)

  (AP/Tony Dejak)
(AP/Tony Dejak)

After 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by Cleveland police last year, online activist Shaun King used his prominent social media presence to set up a fund to help his family -- but thanks to a Twitter campaign and a pair of attorneys, the family has not received any of the $60,000 King helped collect on their behalf.

After King established the fund, one of the lawyers working for the Rice family contacted both the police and -- which was hosting it -- claiming that he had never heard of King and demanded that the $30,000 that had been collected at the point be seized for the Rice family.

Professional gadfly Charles C. Johnson accused King of keeping the money for himself, claiming that he had also stolen funds destined for Haitian relief efforts after the 2011 earthquake.

In light of these circumstances, it's not surprising that the courts seized the funds at the request of the Rice family's attorneys and set up an estate managed by a court-appointed trustee. By placing the $60,000 into Tamir Rice's estate, however, the court made it almost impossible for the Rice family to access the money directly.

According to the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery, the family must petition the court whenever it wants to withdraw from the account -- but the court was free to do so at its own discretion.

When the Rice family parted ways with its first legal team, the court allowed $23,700 in fees to be withdrawn from the estate fund. According to the fund's court-appointed trustee, Doug Winston, approximately $23,000 remains in the estate, and that money can only be spent on a limited number of things.

"Technically," he told Lowery, "it's not their money, it's the estate's money. Distributions from the assets of an estate have to meet specific guidelines, so to say that they would have free disposal to the money in this account would be inaccurate."

The Rice family is currently residing in a small apartment, as Tamir's mother, Samaria, could not bear to continue living feet away from where police gunned down her son.

For his part, King set up another fundraiser, this time with GoFundMe -- and this time with an explicit stipulation that the funds be dispersed directly to the Rice family. As of this writing, over $43,000 have been donated.

By Scott Eric Kaufman

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