The news of Wilson’s resignation came last night from his lawyer, Neil J. Bruntrager. His resignation letter was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Wilson, 28, was paid at least a half million dollars by ABC News for the exclusive interview with George Stephanopoulos, according to media reports.
In addition, Wilson raised more than $600,000 from the public with GoFundMe and Facebook campaigns set up soon after he killed Brown in August. The controversial public campaigns raised similar moral questions as the fundraising campaign that raised several hundred thousand dollars for George Zimmerman last year: People sending money to an individual in response to him killing a child. It is an unseemly picture, with these white men profiting from murdering Black teens. But the ugliness of the image apparently wasn’t enough to deter thousands of donors.
In his resignation letter published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wilson says he was motivated partly by his concern for his colleagues. He had the self-awareness to realize that he’ll likely never again be a police officer.
“I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process.”
Published reports indicated that Wilson received at least half million dollars from ABC News for the exclusive rights to his first interview. Reports said that he also met with NBC’s Matt Lauer, CBS’ Scott Pelley and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon before he made the decision to go with Stephanopoulos,.
GoFundMe refused to succumb to public pressure to stop Wilson’s campaign. Critics went after the site for collecting “reward money for a lynching” with threats of boycott and more than 100,000 signatures on ColorOfChange.org calling on GoFundMe to remove the Wilson donation pages and return all profits. But the company claimed the pro-Wilson fundraising efforts did not violate its terms.
“The Darren Wilson GoFundMe pages lower the social and financial costs of killing Black men and boys,” Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, said to Black Enterprise. “They send the message that you will be supported in the aftermath of taking Black life. We’ve seen this before when Trayvon Martin was murdered.”
Robinson said GoFundMe should update its Terms and Conditions so that perpetrators of racially-motivated or sexual violence can never fundraise on the platform again. Wilson raised over $235,000 of its $300,000 goal at GoFundMe before the campaign was halted, while he raised more than $430,000 on Facebook.