GoFundMe for police officer who mocked LeBron James hits $460k

Idaho Deputy Marshal’s viral TikTok mocking NBA star viewed more than 5.5 million times

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
@GustafKilander
Wednesday 05 May 2021 16:04
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TikTok Cop Mocks Lebron James Over Police Brutality

A GoFundMe started for Deputy Marshal Nate Silvester has raised more than $460,000 after the officer posted a viral TikTok mocking NBA superstar Lebron James.

On 20 April, the same day as Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, Mr James tweeted an image of Columbus, Ohio officer Nicholas Reardon with the caption "you're next".

Mr Reardon fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Ohio shortly after the Chauvin verdict came down, prompting Mr James to send out his now-removed tweet.

Body and security camera footage shows Ms Bryant charging at two others with a knife, leading Mr Reardon to discharge his weapon four times. Ms Bryant was hit at least once.

On 24 April, Deputy Marshal Nate Silvester of the Bellevue Marshal’s Office in Idaho published a TikTok in which he mocks Mr James by pretending to hold off on intervening in a hypothetical violent altercation between two Black people until he’s received guidance from the basketball giant.

The video has been viewed more than 5.5 million times.

Mr James expressed regret over the tweet, writing on Monday: “I fuelled the wrong conversation about Ma’Khia Bryant and I owe it to her and this movement to change it.”

On 27 April, the Bellevue Marshal’s Office wrote on Facebook that they are “aware of the extreme controversy regarding Deputy Marshal Silvester’s viral TikTok. The statements made do NOT represent the Bellevue Marshal’s Office. The Bellevue Marshal’s Office always demands that our Deputies engage with our citizens in a friendly and professional manner. This is NOT how we expect our Deputies to act on duty or use city time. This is a personnel issue that is being dealt with internally”.

According to the GoFundMe page, Gannon Ward, a friend of Mr Silvester, started the fundraiser to “help out my friend Nate due to his suspension without pay over a viral TikTok. As I stated originally, the future of his job is still unclear, so I started this GoFundMe to help him”.

The organiser added: “He is the sole beneficiary from this account. Therefore, 100 per cent of the funds collected from this gofundme account will go directly into Deputy Marshal Nate Silvester’s personal bank account. Period. They are 100 per cent his to do what he wants with them. Period.”

The GoFundMe page goes on to state that Mr Silvester “plans to give back to the police community at large, including the First Responder Children’s Foundation... He still plans on donating a portion of the funds collected to that charity. Since this has become significantly bigger than I ever anticipated, and landed Nate on some major national news, he wishes to use this platform he’s been given to help other officers in other situations similar to his, on a case by case basis”.

Mr Silvester has made several subsequent TikToks thanking people for their support, saying: “The vast majority of people in our country are amazing, decent, honest, compassionate, generous people. We just don’t get to hear from these people very often. Americans still love their police officers, they still love their men and women in blue, and you guys have made that resoundingly clear.”

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