In what may be the quickest case of crowdsourced support turned ire, the case of Keaton Jones took a bizarre turn today and it’s all the Internet’s fault.
Earlier today The New York Times reported:
When Kimberly Jones picked up her son, Keaton, from school in the Knoxville, Tenn., area last week, he asked her to record a video of him in the car.
Keaton was going home early — not for the first time, Ms. Jones said — because he was afraid to have lunch at school. Classmates, he told his mother, had poured milk on him and stuffed ham in his clothes.
“They make fun of my nose,” he said in the video, which Ms. Jones posted on Facebook on Friday with a plea for parents to talk to their children about bullying. “They call me ugly. They say I have no friends.”
“Why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?” he asked, sobbing. He added: “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”
Within hours of the video going viral this weekend, total stranger Joseph Lam decided to do the most American thing to do: make a GoFundMe campaign in the hopes of throwing money at the problem but not much else. And boy was it successful.
He writes in the original description (archive here):
I came across this video on facebook of Kim Jones and her son Keaton. Keaton is being bullied at school. This video really touched my heart. I decided to do this GoFund Me to help with this childs future. I know that money may not be the answer for this problem that we are facing in our communities with bullying. One of my biggest fears as a parent is that my children will be bullied in school. I know its a big task to tackle but it starts inside of our walls and the values that we teach our children. This is just one case of thousands out there. How many of our children stay in silence out of fear for their safety or for the fear of being further unaccepted. Over 3.2 million kids are bullied annually. 160,000 kids on a daily basis skip school out of fear from being bullied. They just want to be accepted and to be able to learn in a safe enviroment. Im so glad Kim posted this video of her son. It shows how bullying can really impact a child. The video that she posted really touched my heart and felt compelled to help. This is best way that I knew how.
More strangers piled on and within no time, the campaign surpassed its $20,000 goal.
See, being just an average guy who hoped to help “the best way I knew how,” Lam failed to do even a compulsory glance at Kimberly Jones’ Facebook page. Had he done so, he may have thought twice about potentially handing over tens of thousands of dollars to the woman who filmed the video of her crying son. Allegedly, anyway, there’s no way to confirm claims of what was on her Facebook page earlier as it has disappeared, along with the video.
Internet sleuths have also uncovered (and by uncovered I mean looked at a Facebook page right out there in the open with lax privacy settings) pics of the Confederate flag slapped across her page, which we know doesn’t sit right with plenty of folks for good reason.
After questions were raised about Kimberly’s, er, belief system, Lam suspended donations to the campaign. It’s still up, just not receiving any funds. It’s unknown if she was able to withdraw any of the funds raised up until that point, as she was only recently designated beneficiary of the funds.
If you gave to the Keaton Jones GoFundMe campaign, you can request a refund here. No word yet on what will happen to the $57,484 raised. Support for the little boy who had no choice in where he came from remains mixed.