Two Darren Wilson-supporting GoFundMe campaigns/internet hang-out spots for trolls and racists stopped taking donations over the weekend amid confusion about what the fundraisers could legally do with the money. Together, they've raised $433,170 since Michael Brown's death.
Clicking "donate now" on either of the pages—Support Officer Darren Wilson ($235,550 raised) and Support Officer Wilson ($197,620)—now generates a message that reads "Donations are complete!" According to a Riverfront Times report, that's because Shield of Hope, the St. Louis police charity that runs them, isn't sure its 501(c)(3) status legally allows it to give the funds to Wilson's legal defense. Missouri state Rep. Jeff Roorda, one of the charity's officers, told the Riverfront Times it will return the money if that turns out to be the case:
Representative Jeff Roorda tells Daily RFT he's trying to determine whether Shield of Hope, the organization managing the donations, is legally allowed to spend the funds on Wilson's legal defense since it is a registered 501c3 nonprofit. Most donors expected their money to pay for lawyers, legal fees and other expenses related to Wilson's prosecution, Roorda says.
"If we find money was donated to the Shield of Home GoFundMe and it can't be used for the express purpose it was intended for, we will return it," says Roorda, one of the officials listed on the nonprofit's state records, along with Ferguson Police Officer Timothy Zoll and Florissant councilman Joseph Eagan.
One option, as laid out by Roorda, is that the fundraiser gives the money to the local Fraternal Order of Police, which, as a 501(c)(5), could legally donate for Wilson's attorneys. There's also the possibility that the larger campaign will be allowed to give the money because it was launched by an unaffiliated person and handed over to Shield of Hope later.
A similar GoFundMe campaign for Michael Brown's family has raised $318,957 and is still accepting money, Daily Intel notes. Frustrated Wilson fans looking for something else at which to throw their money are encouraged to either buy a t-shirt, or—if we're lucky—give to the Brown campaign instead.