US & Canada

Michael Brown: Support for Ferguson officer who shot him

Gofundme page Image copyright Gofundme

Last week, Darren Wilson was named as the Ferguson police officer who shot teenager Michael Brown. Since that time, supporters of the officer have made their presence known online and on the streets of St Louis.

Two Facebook groups boast thousands of members and a fundraiser in his name has brought in more than $10,000 (£5,980). Family members of the military and law enforcement officers have offered their support.

The initial reluctance to name Mr Wilson was a contributing factor to the growing unrest in Ferguson, where Governor Jay Nixon has called in the National Guard to help restore order.

Mr Wilson has allegedly left the area out of safety concerns and his home is being guarded by police.

After the shooting he was placed on administrative leave. His supporters say Mr Wilson was just doing a difficult job.

This weekend members of a Facebook group called I Support Officer Wilson held a silent protest outside a Missouri television station to draw attention to what they say is media bias in the case.

The page has become a place for supporters to share their opinions. On the site, administrators aim to be respectful and weed out racist comments, saying their aim is not denigrating Michael Brown and his family but supporting Mr Wilson and other law enforcement officers.

"As the police stand tall and strong while not wavering to the stress of not being able to express themselves we are here gathered to be a voice for them," the administrator of the Facebook page wrote when it received 7,000 likes.

Image copyright other

Another Facebook group, Support Darren Wilson, also had about 25,000 followers before it went offline on Monday evening. That group started an online donation campaign, which is still ongoing, and is selling T-shirts to raise money for Mr Wilson.

"We stand behind Officer Darren Wilson and his family during this trying time in their lives. All proceeds will be sent directly to Darren Wilson and his family for any financial needs they may have including legal fees," reads the Go Fund Me page.

In St Louis, a local bar hosted a fundraiser for Mr Wilson over the weekend. Barney's Sports Pub offered free wings to supporters, who signed placards and made donations.

Other local organisations have turned out to support the Ferguson police.

Image copyright Facebook

A human rights charity has collected over $1,500 (£900) and a lorry full of food to help support the officers on the ground, who have been working long shifts with little downtime.

"They are charged with trying to keep peace amidst a really tenuous situation, but it's so easy to make them look like the bad guys," says Pat Bradley, founder of CrisisAid. He said before deciding to start the drive, his group discussed how they would be perceived.

Ultimately they decided it was a public service.

"The police are there to protect the community. By helping the police, we're also helping the community," he said.