GoFundMe quickly removed a crowdfunding campaign set up to raise $ 5 million to rescue Waukesha, Wisconsin, parade suspect Darrell Brooks.
Brooks, 39, allegedly drove his SUV through a crowded holiday parade in Waukesha over the weekend – resulting in six deaths and dozens of injuries. He was charged with five counts of premeditated murder and bail was set at $ 5 million. Shortly afterwards, someone who claimed to know Brooks personally set up the crowdfunding campaign.
This is confirmed by a spokesman for GoFundMe Newsweek in a Thursday e-mail that the collection had been taken down before money had been paid in. “The fundraiser organizer has also been banned from using the GoFundMe platform for future fundraisers,” the spokesman explained.
“Abuse collections are very rare and we take all complaints very seriously. Our team works with law enforcement to report issues and assist them in any investigation they deem necessary,” the spokesman added.
“Immediately after news reports, GoFundMe mobilized its emergency response team and began monitoring the platform for fundraisers in connection with this event.”
The person who started the crowdfunding campaign, which was first reported by Law Enforcement Today on Tuesday, said the name was James Norton. The person said they knew Brooks personally and argued that he was being abused by the justice system.
“As someone who knows Darrell personally, I can tell you that he would NEVER do such a thing, and I know he is innocent of what he was accused of,” Norton wrote. He went on to say that Brooks could become “another black man behind bars in a purely political and racist trial.”
“There is no excuse for this continued treatment of black Americans by prosecutors around the country, everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and we ask that he be treated just like anyone else in this country would be treated “and that he should be released until he is found guilty,” Norton wrote.
In fact, Brooks was already out of jail after bailing out $ 1,000. The suspect had been arrested earlier in November for allegedly trying to run over his child’s mother with a vehicle at a gas station. Many have expressed outrage that Brooks was able to get out of jail with a relatively low bail – which allowed him to then go and wreak havoc on the Waukesha parade.
Although five people initially died after the vehicle crashed through a weekend parade, a sixth victim died due to his injuries Tuesday. That victim was 8-year-old Jackson Sparks, who was hospitalized after the incident, but he succumbed to brain damage he sustained during the attack.
Separately, a GoFundMe campaign for the Sparks family has earned nearly $ 420,000. The families’ other 12-year-old son Tucker Sparks remains hospitalized with a skull fracture.