The administrator of a GoFundMe drive that has collected nearly $60,000 for bullied child-turned-viral sensation Keaton Jones has halted the drive after Jones’ mother, Kimberly Jones, was accused of racism.
Joseph Lam, the 37-year-old New Jersey man who initiated the campaign, said he didn’t know the family, but wanted to make sense of the situation and make sure everyone had Keaton’s interests at heart.
He said he had heard from “a lot of people with concerns” about whether the mom was racist, but added: “I’m more concerned with the kid.”
“I would like to do a college fund for the kid, it’s not the kid’s fault,” he told TheWrap.
He said he was still reeling from the suicide of a 10-year-old boy in his community when he first saw Keaton Jones’ video, and decided to start the campaign to help.
An update posted on the GoFundMe page said he’s “in touch” with GoFundMe “on how to proceed at this point.”
Prior to being put on hold, the fundraising drive had amassed more than $58,000 in donations, far surpassing the $20,000 goal that the two-day-old campaign had sought.
Lam is also trying to make sure he is in touch with the real Kimberly Jones. He said someone got in touch with him saying he was a family friend after he started the Go Fund Me campaign, and gave him the email of someone he said was Kimberly Jones.
Keaton Jones became a viral sensation over the weekend, after his mother posted a video of him describing bullying and harassment by his classmates. Jones’ heart string-tugging story drew widespread support, including from “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton and “Captain America” actor Chris Evans, the latter of whom invited the boy to the next “Avengers” premiere.
After the younger Jones rose to internet fame, people on social media began circulating photos they said were posted to to the elder Jones’ Facebook page of people holding Confederate flags.
One unverified post attributed to the elder Jones, dated soon after the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, declared, “Dear butt hurt Americans. If you aren’t bleeding, no bones are sticking out & you breathe, STOP crying! For the love, some folks clearly never picked a switch. And before y’all start talking to me about metaphorical, emotional, financial or historical blood & brokenness, Don’t. Join a group. #yallneedssomeporchtherapy #coffeewithJesus #somethin #FINE.”
Lam said he doesn’t know if the posts attributed to Kimberly Jones are real — and neither do the people accusing her of racism.
“You have ignorant people tearing the family apart and they don’t even know them,” he said.
In Monday’s update to the Go Fund Me page, Lam suggested that the elder Jones might have suffered from bullying herself by her detractors.
“THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE MOM!! However passing judgement on her before you know her is a form of bullying. Condemnation before evaluation is the ultimate form of ignorance,” Lam wrote. “I can’t even say for sure that any of whats being said is true. I don’t know the family personally and never claimed to have known them. This is about a kid who’s been bullied and not just one kid, Keaton, there are many unspoken cases about kids being bullied.”
He continued, “We have to be the voice for the voiceless. In the video I saw a kid crying not just for himself but for others. To me that’s a kid with a heart of gold and deserves praise. I’m hoping that we can turn the money into something good whether it be for private school or college fund. I’m in touch with GFM on how to proceed at this point. Thank you every one that donated.”
Related stories from TheWrap: