Who’s Behind the GoFundMe Crowd-Funding Pages for Darren Wilson?
In the days since Darren Wilson was named as the officer involved in the shooting of an unarmed Mike Brown, someone established a GoFundMe for raising funds for Wilson’s likely defense fund.
Other folks have already shown their true intentions in the hate filled comments supporting Wilson. People donated $25, $50, or more to the Wilson fund, and some expressed all manner of racial hatred and vitriol at Brown and those who are seeking justice for the shooting of an unarmed black man.
This is just a small sample, before the site took these comments down:
Over $100,000 has been raised for Darren Wilson. But man, why must liberals bring RACE into this?! It's about…oh. pic.twitter.com/UHagxSTuDL
GoFundMe responded, not by taking down the fundraising site, but by eliminating the comments that highlighted the hate.
In regard to the 'Officer Darren Wilson' campaign, donors' comments posted in violation of GoFundMe's terms have been removed.
Note that GoFundMe is itself funded by taking a percentage of every donation. That’s their business model, so while it would be wise in the long run to reject these donations altogether, they’ve kept the donations, which helps fund the site.
The original page has been replaced by a new page, with the funds going to a 501(c)(3) charity, meaning donations are tax exempt.
This was the first update to that page, 5 days ago:
It was a request to contact an email address for more information or to donate directly to the Ferguson Police Department.
Well, we know who’s running it now; it’s a 501(c)(3) going by the name Shield of Hope:
Originally called the Fraternal Order Of Police Lodge 15 Charitable Foundation, Shield of Hope was founded in late 2011. (The name was changed shortly after.) According to a filing with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, the charity’s board of directors include the Ferguson Police Department’s Public Relations Officer Timothy Zoll, Missouri State Rep. Jeffrey Roorda (a former police officer), and Florissant City Council member Joe Eagan.
They’ve also set up a Facebook page, which links back to the GoFundMe.
Charity Navigator doesn’t rate this charity because it isn’t required to file a full Form 990.
To me, the most interesting name associated with the charity is Roorda, because he’s also the state rep who tried to keep the names of officers involved in shootings secret.
Roorda said he introduced the bill in 2009 out of safety concerns for police officers.
“Releasing a name could put someone in grave jeopardy,” Roorda said.
Roorda is also the business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association. The bill would have prevented the public from obtaining any records and documents involving police shootings if those documents contained the name of the officer who pulled the trigger.
Roorda said he was concerned about retaliation.
“That someone would retaliate, think they did something wrong and try to hurt them or their family,” Roorda said.
The bill never became law. The Police Officer’s Association eventually reached a compromise with the St. Louis Police Department. The department agreed to not release the name of the officer if it felt the officer could face a threat. After the compromise, Roorda decided not to pursue the legislation.
Roorda dropped pursuing the bill’s passage, but he’s still out there trying to shield law enforcement from the repercussions of excessive force.
The other person involved, Joe Eagan, appears be the same Joe Eagan who was a former police officer who was nearly killed in a carjacking. Three suspects in the shooting were eventually arrested. He’s now a councilman for the neighboring city of Florissant.
I get why these three think that Wilson deserves a defense. They want to protect and shield their own, but they owe the Ferguson community so much more than just defending their police officers. They owe it to the community to be law enforcement officers who uphold the law and don’t engage in racial profiling. They owe it to the community to be law enforcement that doesn’t target minorities and see them as a piggy bank.
An analysis by NBC News indicates that in recent years, Ferguson and other nearby jurisdictions have issued citations for low-level traffic and other violations at a per capita rate as much as five times higher than cities in other parts of suburban St. Louis.
This was systematic targeting of minority drivers across the entire region, and one of the primary law enforcement agencies involved is the St. Louis County Police. The county police stops on Interstates was more balanced, but once you got to local roads, the bias is glaringly obvious. The Ferguson PD isn’t much different. They’ve got a similarly abysmal track record.
All the local law enforcement agencies involved in Ferguson have shown the community is nothing but a bottomless pit of contempt. And hatred.
And the comments by those who donated to GoFundMe expose still more racial hatred, and that should not be tolerated either.
The Wilson GoFundMe has raised more than $230,000 so far in 5 days.
That’s a whole lot of hate.
Now, before anyone thinks that I don’t think that Wilson deserves a proper legal defense, let’s further note that Wilson hasn’t been even charged with a crime yet. He hasn’t spoken to prosecutors and he remains in seclusion. Indeed, he doesn’t appear to have spoken to any law enforcement agency and isn’t likely to issue any statement lest he incriminate himself under the 5th Amendment.
So, all this money is being raised despite no charges pending and the grand jury just getting underway.
Wilson will likely get his day in court for the unlawful killing of Michael Brown.That’s his constitutional right; it’s sad that far too many of his supporters ignore how Wilson deprived Brown of that same right.