Wilson, the police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown and sparked weeks of protests in Ferguson, Mo., has been in hiding since shortly after the shooting. An earlier GoFundMe page raised $235,550 in donations on his behalf, many of which were accompanied by racist comments.
After a few days this fundraiser was halted and replaced by another account. This one fed into a tax-deductible nonprofit organization called Shield of Hope, which has close links with the Ferguson police department and several local politicians. One of this charity’s directors, Jeffrey Roorda, is a Missouri state representative who recently introduced a piece of legislation that would keep the names of police officers secret if they were involved in a shooting.
The two fundraisers were very controversial, not least because they claim to be raising funds for Wilson’s living costs and legal expenses. Many people have accused him of profiting from the death of Michael Brown, because Wilson has not been charged with any crime and is currently on paid administrative leave. Over $400,000 was raised on Wilson’s behalf between the two GoFundMe campaigns, and that doesn’t even include direct donations and other fundraisers, such as the one run by the KKK.
The second GoFundMe page was closed this weekend by its anonymous creator, with no explanation. However, fundraising efforts still continue through Shield of Hope, which is still taking donations through the Fraternal Order of Police and by mail.
Of the two main Facebook groups supporting Darren Wilson, one is still raising money through T-shirt sales and donations. This group, which has been liked by over 77,000 people, appears to be linked to the main GoFundMe fundraiser, although both accounts are run anonymously.
In a post from Sunday night, the moderator of the Support Darren Wilson Facebook group wrote, “Please note, NOBODY shut down the GoFundMe account because of any petitions floating around trying to close it and GoFundMe did not close them either. That decision was made by those closest to Officer Darren Wilson looking out for his best interest.”
According to a report from the L.A. Times, this Facebook page has been deleting comments about the accountability of the Darren Wilson fundraising campaign. Darren Wilson himself has not acknowledged any of the fundraisers or made any kind of public statement about the shooting.
Photo via Teddy James/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)