Three years ago a small police department in Jennings, Mo., was so bedeviled by racial strife between its white officers and black residents that the City Council fired the whole force and built a new one, the Washington Post reports.
One of the fired officers was Darren Wilson, 28, accused of shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown nearly two weeks ago on a hazy Saturday afternoon outside the youth’s housing complex in Ferguson, Mo., a predominantly black community.
In a step up from Jennings, Wilson, who is white, was hired three years ago by the Ferguson Police Department as a patrol officer. Indeed, Wilson, whose life has been marked by familial discord, including a recent split from his wife, hoped to find some semblance of normalcy working as a police officer, sources tell the Post.
“What he found in Jennings, however, was a mainly white department mired in controversy and notorious for its fraught relationship with residents, especially the African American majority,” the Washington Post writes. “It was not an ideal place to learn how to police. Officials say Wilson kept a clean record without any disciplinary action.”
But since the shooting, he has been placed on leave and has essentially vanished from public view. Neither he nor members of his family have commented on the incident that has become the latest example of racial tensions in America, sparking fiery protests and calls for justice.
And Saturday, nearly 14 days after the shooting, a new group of protesters emerged: supporters of Darren Wilson. They rallied outside Barney’s Sports Pub in South St. Louis, calling for justice for the beleaguered officer. The rally came as USA Today reported that a crowdfunding page created for Wilson raised $235,010 from 5,902 people before organizers stopped accepting donations Friday after surpassing their goal of $100,000 in four days.