London woman’s fundraising campaign aims to disarm Saturday’s planned anti-Islam protest outside city hall

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Money talks.

A London woman is launching an effort to put a “bounty” on the head of every protester at an anti-Islam rally happening in front of city hall Saturday, in the hopes of raising some cash for charity.

The goal, she said, is to turn hate into something positive: Her GoFundMe campaign, called Love Counters Hate, encourages donors to pledge funds for every person who shows up to the protest. The money would go to London’s Cross Cultural Learner Centre or a similar agency supporting newcomers.

“Dollars speak loudly in today’s world. We could go and throw flowers at them, but that’s not really going to accomplish anything,” said Marina Sheppard, a local resident who was looking for a way to denounce the protest planned by Pegida Canada (Patriots of Canada against the Islamization of the West).

“It’s really disgusting that it’s here in our hometown,” she said.

A counter-protest is also planned by several anti-hate groups.

Sheppard said she got the fundraising idea from a similar effort in Wunsiedel, Germany, where a neo-Nazi rally was turned into a sponsored walkathon in 2014. For every metre the marchers walked in their annual demonstration, residents and businesses donated 10 euros to a charity that helps people leave extremist movements. They even decorated the route and hung signs thanking the neo-Nazis for their donations.

The Cross Cultural Learner Centre is Sheppard’s top choice for any funds raised by her GoFundMe campaign, but said she’s open to suggestions.

It’s a non-violent way to fire back at Pegida protesters, she said.

“Everybody can spare a couple of dollars. This is something that doesn’t hurt anybody, but definitely gets the message across,” she said.

Sheppard is going to the counter-rally as an anti-hate protester, too, but she wanted to give people who won’t be there an option to back the anti-hate cause. And she likes the idea that it might dissuade a few people from joining Pegida’s rally.

“Their pride will be hurt by that,” she said. “Every person, every single one of them that shows up, that helps the people they’re trying to hurt.

“I don’t anticipate raising tens of thousands of dollars,” she said. “It’s just more making them see they’re not alone here.”

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