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Change.org hosts petition claiming Boston bombing suspects ‘wrongfully accused’

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The online petition platform Change.org currently hosts a petition to President Obama asking him to guarantee “wrongfully accused” Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a “fair trial,” citing a lack of evidence to condemn Tsarnaev.

Change.org, which features sponsored petitions from groups including Amnesty International and the Humane Society, features a petition entitled, “Petition to guarantee Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the right to a fair trial,” created by Anita Temisheva of Chicago, Illinois.

The petition has already netted more than 2,000 signatures.

“We believe that within the chaos caused by the Boston Marathon explosion, two young men were wrongfully accused of something they did not do, and one of them has lost his life before even getting the opportunity of a proper trial. We do not wish to see blood of yet another innocent victim, someone who, by U.S. law, is innocent until proven guilty,” reads the petition’s introductory statement.

“It is vital to end this persecution, as all the conflicting information shown by the media, and footage from the incident, seen by people from all corners of the world, doesn’t manifest itself as enough evidence to condemn Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of this heinous crime. You promised to the world that you would get to the bottom of this, and we hope you keep your word. We want evidence. We want truth. We want justice,” the petition says.

Though Change.org allows its users to start any petition they wish, the site claims to restrict content that violates certain guidelines, such as “hate speech.”

“But we do not allow hate speech — advocacy of beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people has no place on Change.org,” according to the site’s community guidelines.

“We reserve the right — at all times, and for any reason — to edit or remove any material and/or suspend the account of any user,” according to Change.org.

After publication, Change.org responded to a request for comment.

“We are an open petition platform where anyone can post petitions for free on the site. Anita’s petition is one of over 25,000 petitions started every month by people all over the world on any and every topic,” said a Change.org spokeswoman.

In March 2012, a petition on Change.org was instrumental in pressuring for the arrest of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who claimed that he shot Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense after Martin attacked him and reached for Zimmerman’s gun. The Change.org petition “Prosecute the killer of our son, 17-year old Trayvon Martin“ received more than 2.2 million signatures.

Zimmerman now faces a second-degree murder charge.

This story has been updated to identify Change.org as an online petition platform and clarify that Change.org receives advertising, not funding, from Amnesty International and the Humane Society.

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