The original donation page to support the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot Mike Brown has been replaced with a charity, which shares the same address with a local police union in Missouri.
A long message to the Support Officer Wilson GoFundMe page was posted Friday afternoon, noting that donations will now go directly to a 501c3 charity called Shield of Hope, which the post says is designated "the authorized charity for donations on behalf of Darren Wilson."
GoFundMe distanced itself from the situation, saying in an email that it is a "neutral platform" and the campaign itself has not violated any of the site's terms. Additionally, the email from a spokesperson, identified only as Kelsea, said the pages do not appear in a public search because "a valid Facebook account has not been associated with it."
The original donation page said all donations that were already made will still go toward helping Darren Wilson, and other social media pages will continue to be operated independently.
Shield of Hope appears linked with a local police union in St. Louis County, Lodge 15 of the Fraternal Order of Police.
The nonprofit shares the same address as the police union. When asked whether Missouri unions were supporting the GoFundMe account, a representative for the state Missouri Fraternal Order of Police told BuzzFeed "that account is run by Lodge 15."
The nonprofit database Guidestar describes Shield of Hope as the "Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15 Charitable Foundation," and lists the nonprofit's address in St. Louis. That address is the same as police union's.
Earlier this week, a user on the Facebook page I Support Officer Wilson directed people to "mail any donations" to Lodge 15 with "Attention: Shield of Hope." A post from another Missouri police union earlier this week also directed donations to Shield of Hope, with a typo in the address.
Ferguson Police Department's Public Relations Officer Timothy Zoll serves on the board of Shield of Hope, The Wire reported Friday. In an interview with the site, Zoll said the organization raises money that is "allocated to officers in times of need."
Lodge 15 did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed's requests for comment via email and phone.
BuzzFeed confirmed that Lodge 15 is located at the same address as Shield of Hope. This post has been updated to reflect that. Jim Dalrymple II contributed reporting to this story.
Jacob Fischler is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.
Contact Jacob Fischler at email@example.com.
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