There is a growing cry for the shutdown of an Officer Darren Wilson GoFundMe account that has raised over $217,000 for the officer. The fund-raising site has denied requests to pull the page, but is deleting all inappropriate comments, though not before social media followers catch screenshots of them and broadcast to make sure the world knows the sentiments being expressed by some in support of the officer.
Users say that since the GoFundMe terms of service include a rule against the site being used for profit from criminal acts, Darren Wilson should not receive funds for what they call the murder of Michael Brown. Supporters, however, point out that there are, at this point, no charges filed, and that Wilson’s family still needs to eat food and pay bills while everything is settled. It’s also been pointed out that Wilson’s wife has been forced to take a leave of absence from work due to the furor.
However, that’s not the only complaint that has been expressed about the GoFundMe page. The site’s TOS also says that accounts cannot encourage abusive or racist language, yet in the view of many, Wilson’s page is a magnet for just that.
In the early hours of Friday morning, GoFundMe offered what it presumably thought was an excellent compromise: a deletion of the inappropriate comments.
In regard to the ‘Officer Darren Wilson’ campaign, donors’ comments posted in violation of GoFundMe’s terms have been removed.
— GoFundMe (@gofundme) August 22, 2014
However, the comments keep coming, and they can’t be deleted quickly enough to prevent them being used as a snapshot for the type of support the officer is receiving. Here are just a few of the screenshots Twitter users have shared. Please note that the names used are often those of well-known people, and that it by no means indicates that the actual person of that name is the commenter, only that the person commenting thought using that name would be funny or make a point.
It’s fair to note that these are not all of the comments or donors. Many donations are made without comment, and some donors simply want to help and remain neutral until all the facts are settled and the officer is either charged or cleared. There are also claims that the donors are “plants” to make Officer Wilson look bad:
— Lurker (@LurkerDood) August 22, 2014
At the last update, the creators of the page made a vague reference to “inappropriate comments” and said that donations would be refunded to “those not supporting” Officer Wilson, though it’s not clear if that is meant to suggest that they don’t find the racist comments supportive.
“Thank you so much for all of your continued support! We have received a lot of emails through this site within the last 48 hours. We are attempting to respond to each email as quickly as possible. We also want to address all of the inappropriate comments submitted on our page. We will be refunding the donations from those who are not supporting Officer Darren Wilson. We hope all can understand. We will have all communications responded to within the next 24 hours. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Is it fair to consider these comments a snapshot of Darren Wilson’s support? Perhaps no more than it is fair to find one or two protesters who act inappropriately in support of Michael Brown and label everyone based on them.
However, it’s a fair portrait of one subset of the support, and to many, it’s a telling snapshot.
Further, does the page violate GoFundMe’s terms of service? Some of the more cynical followers of the site believe that the refusal to shut it down is based solely on the profit (GoFundMe takes a 5 percent cut.) Even so, the site may simply be trying to remain neutral until the investigation is complete.
There may not be that much time, though. There’s a growing call for boycott if the page isn’t deleted.
. @gofundme can’t delete the racist comments fast enough. New ones and new money keeps coming. Delete or we boycott. pic.twitter.com/ggNH4Uwlme
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 22, 2014
A boycott would also hurt other users of the site, including Michael Brown’s memorial fund and a fund for his siblings.
Despite an auto-reply promising an official response by 7:00 am Pacific time, as of 9:00 am Pacific there was no response. However, GoFundMe is likely deluged with such requests at this time, and if they do respond, this will be updated at that time.
Do you think the Officer Darren Wilson GoFundMe page should be deleted?