Porch lights — many of them illuminating blue — are being left on in St. Louis and across the country in a show of support for the Missouri police officer who shot and killed an unarmed young man 10 days ago.
“Walmart in Desoto, Mo was out of blue bulbs,” Brian Christopher commented on the Support Darren Wilson Facebook page. “I'll take this as a magnificent sign of support!”
While protests and unrest sparked by the death of Michael Brown have captured the nation’s attention, grass-roots campaigns backing the officer who killed him are gaining ground.
At least a half-dozen pro-Wilson pages have popped up on Facebook in recent days. Combined, the pages are approaching 100,000 likes. An online campaign to help the Wilson family with “any financial needs they may have including legal fees” has taken in nearly $40,000 in two days.
I Support Officer Wilson surpassed 39,000 Facebook likes on Tuesday. The page was launched by the wife of a Missouri police officer who said it could have been her husband or any other officer instead of Wilson.
“I put myself in that family’s shoes,” she said. “I would want to know that not everyone hated me for doing my job.”
The 33-year-old woman, who has no ties to Wilson or the case, asked that Yahoo News not identify her by name due to the violence and hatred displayed in the St. Louis area since the 18-year-old’s death.
“I’m not scared,” she said. “If I wasn’t concerned about what could happen to me and my family, I would absolutely stand proud and say who I was.”
Allegations of racism have been at the core of demonstrations. Brown was a black teenager shot multiple times in broad daylight by Wilson, a white Ferguson officer. A preliminary autopsy commissioned by Brown’s family shows he was struck by at least six bullets.
Authorities haven't released an official version of how the killing happened, but Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has said that Brown attacked the officer and tried to take his gun. Eyewitnesses, however, claim it was Wilson who was the aggressor.
The officer went into hiding last week, and his family declined to answer questions from Yahoo News. However, a longtime friend told ABC News that Wilson "did not have a temper. ... I feel like maybe he’s been unfairly portrayed as a villain.”
A grand jury could begin hearing evidence on Wednesday to determine whether Wilson will face charges for Brown’s death, according to a spokesman for St. Louis County's prosecuting attorney.
“Officer Darren Wilson” T-shirts, hoodies and tank tops are being hawked to help support his potential legal fund. The black shirts are emblazoned with an image of a police badge featuring Wilson’s name, the date of the shooting and the words “I stand by you.” The back of the shirt reads “We’ve got your 6,” which is slang for “We’ve got your back.”
The woman behind the I Support Officer Wilson page on Facebook said she has learned through law enforcement circles that Wilson has seen her efforts.
“I just wanted the officer to know that I was here,” she said. “The whole situation is sad. There are two families whose worlds have been flipped upside-down in a matter of seconds.”
Follow Jason Sickles on Twitter (@jasonsickles).