A GoFundMe page aimed at raising $5 million bail for the Wisconsin man accused of plowing his SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha has been pulled from the platform.
Darrell Brooks Jr. was charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide following the holiday event on Sunday. Five people were pronounced dead on the scene while a sixth victim, 8-year-old Jackson Sparks, died days later in an area hospital.
During a court appearance on Tuesday, Brooks was ordered held on $5 million bail — sparking swift backlash given prosecutors previously admitted Brooks was only able to rip through the parade route after being sprung on an “inappropriately low” bond.
At the time of the parade massacre, Brooks was out on $1,000 bail after he was arrested earlier this month for allegedly attempting to run over the mother of his child with his car.
According to screengrabs first shared by Law Enforcement Today, the bail also spawned a fundraising effort on Brooks’ behalf. Set up by a person going by the name James Norton, the page insisted Brooks was a victim of a “racist” justice system and used hashtags including #RacismIsReal and #BLM.
“On November 21st, 2021 our dear friend Darrell Brooks was arrested for allegedly driving his car into a parade, 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 charged with,” Norton wrote, per the screengrabs.
“Clearly there is more to the story the media is not telling us and I am seeking to raise the bail so Darrell can be released and speak his truth to his side of the story in this tragic situation that sees another black man behind bars in a purely political and racist trial.”
The fundraiser organizer went on to write that there is “no excuse for this continued treatment of black Americans by prosecutors around the country.”
A spokesperson for GoFundMe on Wednesday confirmed to Fox Business that the page has since been removed from the platform. The person attempting to raise money for Brooks has also been banned from using GoFundMe for future fundraisers.
“Fundraisers with misuse are very rare, and we take all complaints very seriously,” the spokesperson said.
“Our team works with law enforcement to report issues and assists them in any investigations they deem necessary.”
The move comes amid controversy for GoFundMe over its previous removal of pages dedicated to raising money for Kyle Rittenhouse, who was recently acquitted of killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle unrest in Wisconsin last summer. The late-night violence was triggered by the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot by a white police officer on Aug. 23, 2020.
Now that Rittenhouse has been cleared of all violent charges, a spokesperson said money could now be raised on his behalf through the platform.
“If someone is acquitted of those charges, as Rittenhouse was today, a fundraiser started subsequently for their legal defense and other expenses would not violate this policy,” according to GoFundMe.
“A fundraiser to pay lawyers, cover legal expenses or to help with ongoing living expenses for a person acquitted of those charges could remain active as long as we determine it is not in violation of any of our other terms and, for example, the purpose is clearly stated and the correct beneficiary is added to the fundraiser.”
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