Officer Darren Wilson, the man who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown while he was trying to flee (based on multiple eyewitness reports and, now, the Ferguson PD), has not been charged with any crime. He has not lost his job, or any associated income. He has, however, attracted a distributed group of enthusiasts donating money to him for so-called “legal defense.” As there is no pending litigation, this amounts to a reward or bounty for killing a black man. The campaigns are being run through GoFundMe, first here and now here. The folks running these “fundraisers” have rebranded themselves as “Shield of Hope charity,” so that donations will be tax deductible.
The donation page quickly filled up with racist commentary. Soon, 4chan trolls piled on (more here). In response to the controversy, GoFundMe decided to delete the offensive comments. Of course, they still kept the money, as evidenced by the number of donators going down while the amount raised went up. At the time of this writing, the two campaigns have raised almost a quarter million dollars, for a profit to GoFundMe of $12,064.
Shaun King has called for a boycott of GoFundMe. Somewhat ironically, there is also a GoFundMe campaign in support of the family of Mike Brown, which will suffer under a boycott. But there are many ways to support the cause of justice that don’t involve giving a 5% cut to a company that is functionally doing PR work for racists by deleting their hateful commentary but keeping the money that came with it. Kickstarter learned that there are some activities that don’t belong on their site. It’s time for GoFundMe to learn the same lesson. Barring the closing of the racist Darren Wilson support funds and an apology from GoFundMe, I will not donate to any future GoFundMe campaigns.
UPDATE: And looks like the fundraisers may be run by the Ferguson PD itself.