Not everyone thinks that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed teenager Michael Brown, is a villain; support groups for the Ferguson cop have been springing up on Facebook since he was identified as the shooter last week.
One such group is the Facebook page "Support Darren Wilson." The page was created on Aug. 15, the same day Ferguson PD chief Thomas Jackson announced via a press conference Wilson's involvement. Since then, the group has surpassed 25,000 likes. A second Facebook group, "I Support Officer Darren Wilson," was also created on Aug. 15 and has seen rapid growth. As of Monday afternoon the second group had more than 24,500 likes.
Both groups have thus far served as a platform for pro-law enforcement messaging, such as the one below:
More than 100 people attended a rally in Ferguson organized by "Support Darren Wilson" to show their support for the officer. According to local station KSDK, more than 100 people showed up to lend their support. Photographs of the event, including individuals signing a thank you card for Wilson, were published online.
Although both groups have stressed that they would not tolerate disrespectful comments, the inflammatory languages in some posts is apparent.
"I say Lock it Down Ferguson—the disrespectful, rogue thugs need to know that blatant disrespect for the law has consequences," wrote one Facebook commenter.
Another post equated the protesters to animals and suggested that police act with more force when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced that he was deploying the National Guard.
"The looters and protestors [sic] that are violent KNOW that they will not be shot at or dealt back with violence," he said. "[That] is also the problem, no consequences for their actions. I have no problem with PEACEFUL protests but these are anything but that, I think that they need to take a stance.. .'YOU LOOT, WE SHOOT.'"
Both pages have also heavily publicized a crowdfunding campaign that claims it's raising proceeds for Officer Wilson and his family for "any financial needs they may have, including legal fees." The campaign has surpassed its $10,000 goal.
Also being promoted on "Support Darren Wilson and "I Support Officer Darren Wilson" is the sale of a blue t-shirt to raise proceeds for the officer.
The outpouring of support for the Ferguson police officer has not gained much traction on Twitter. A cursory search for the term "#DarrenWilson" on the microblogging platform mostly yielded comments condemning him, and the hashtag "#ISupportDarrenWilson" has not gone viral.
Fidel Martinez is an editor at Fusion.net. He's also a Texas native and a lifelong El Tri fan.