Most of the stories filtering out of Ferguson, Missouri, have supported Michael Brown, the unarmed, African-American teenager killed by a police officer. But that police officer, 28-year-old Darren Wilson, has supporters, too, and they're becoming more vocal in recent days. Group rallies in support of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson have broken out across the St. Louis area. They're on the streets. They're at police headquarters. And they're even in bars.
On Sunday night, about 30 minutes from Ferguson, a group of Wilson supporters convened at a St. Louis sports bar. They reportedly carried signs saying, "Support Officer Wilson," but they weren't just there for the embattled Ferguson officer. This isn’t just about Darren Wilson," one protester told International Business Times. "It’s about all the first responders and how they’ve been villainized."
That's been one of the themes behind the Darren Wilson rallies, which, it's worth noting, have mostly taken place outside Ferguson. A rally that took place earlier on Sunday outside the KSDK-TV studio saw about 150 protesters carrying "Support Our Police" placards and holding tapestries bearing the St. Louis County Police Department emblem. It has set up an us vs. them mentality, but this time, it's the police vs. the people.
"He was doing his job," Kaycee Reinisch of Lincoln County, Missouri, told The Guardia. “And now because of public uproar in Ferguson, he is being victimized."
The rallies have been organized by the Facebook group Support Darren Wilson, which had more than 27,000 "Likes" on Monday. The group is selling T-shirts with a mock Officer Wilson badge on the front and "We've Got Your 6" on the back to raise money for Wilson and his family.
The group has also created a Go Fund Me page, allowing supporters to donate funds to the Wilson family. So far, more than $10,000 has been raised over the last 20 hours.
The Sunday rally in front of the KSDK TV station was held not only as a supportive gesture for Wilson, but also as a protest of the local news station, which local residents say is biased in its coverage. The station reportedly broadcast the exterior of Wilson's home after he was identified as Mike Brown's shooter. KSDK quickly issued an apology for the broadcast on Saturday:
KSDK immediately felt using that video was a mistake and pulled the video of the home from future newscasts and from our web site. We have not used the video since then and do not intend to do so. We apologize to our audience, to the surrounding neighborhoods, to the greater St.Louis community and to the officer for our mistake.
Despite KSDK's error, the Support Darren Wilson rallies have an unmistakable overtone. As many journalists at the scene have pointed out, the protesters are overwhelmingly white (not to mention the racism memes filling up the Facebook's page timeline).
The supporters, however, deny that race plays a role in the shooting of Mike Brown and the aftermath of Darren Wilson's identification. "Lawlessness knows no color," Martin Baker, the only African-American of Sunday's rally, told The Guardian.
Images: I Support Officer Wilson/Facebook