Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson officer Darren Wilson was ‘doing his job’ says growing band of supporters

Darren Wilson has received death threats since shooting the 18-year-old, but locals are speaking out on his behalf

ferguson, missouri

On the streets of Ferguson, a community racked by racial unrest, police officer Darren Wilson is vilified by protesters for shooting and killing an unarmed black man.

Away from the front lines, however, a growing band of supporters is starting to speak up for the white policeman, saying he is being unjustly attacked for doing his job.

Mr Wilson, who is under investigation for shooting 18?year-old Michael Brown on 9 August, has been in hiding since the incident brought to a boil simmering racial tension in the St Louis suburb. Police have released little information about the 28-year-old officer whose own police chief described him as a gentle and quiet man.

A grand jury has begun hearing evidence to determine whether he should be charged in Mr Brown’s death. A spokesman for the St Louis county prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, said there was no timeline for the process, but it could take weeks.

The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has sought to build confidence in the investigation into the death of Mr Brown. Mr Holder, who is black, said on Wednesday he understands why many black Americans do not trust the police and that he had experienced the same frustrations. He described being stopped twice on the New Jersey Turnpike and accused of speeding. Police searched his car, looking through the boot and under the seats.

“I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me,” he said during a meeting with about 50 community leaders at the St Louis Community College.

 

Tensions appeared to have eased in Ferguson, enough at least for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to order the National Guard to begin withdrawing from the town.

Meanwhile, at Barney’s Sports Bar in St Louis, where a weekend rally in support of Mr Wilson is planned, patrons at the establishment, owned by a police officer, said they worried that he was not being given the benefit of the doubt.

“I think he’s innocent until proven guilty. In fact, I know. That’s the constitution,” Paul Beauregard Morton, who works in financial services, said as he sat at the bar. “I’m going to wait until the facts come out. That’s what everyone should be doing.”

For many protesters in Ferguson, a mostly black suburb, Mr Wilson is emblematic of a predominantly white police force that they say targets blacks, treating them like second-class citizens. Near the spot where Mr Brown was killed, a man held a placard on Wednesday bearing pictures of Mr Wilson and reading: “We demand justice.” But at the “I Support Officer Wilson” Facebook site, which had more than 50,000 “likes” this week, most people posting comments saw Mr Wilson as being caught in a risky situation where he was acting in a professional manner.

One Facebook user, Kevin Chicwak, wrote that Mr Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department were being found guilty without due process “by the liberal media”. Mr Chicwak wrote: “My family and I stand by them. Keep the faith.” But the site has also been riddled with racially charged comments, prompting the organisers to warn that anything that crossed the line into hate speech would be deleted.

The New Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said on its website it planned a fundraiser in Sullivan, Missouri, over the weekend and had members going to areas near Ferguson to guard white businesses.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 people have contributed about $85,000 (£51,000) to a site on gofundme.com, offering financial support to Mr Wilson. He has faced death threats and has not spoken publicly about why he fired multiple shots at the teenager after a confrontation in the street near his squad car.

People describing themselves as friends of Mr Wilson have tried to present a different narrative to deflect blame from the officer on television and radio. “He’s a really quiet guy,” one friend, who asked not to be named, told ABC News. “He’s just really well-mannered. He’s very respectful.”

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend