Once again, here we are with a tragic news story on our hands: a young man and respected member of his community apparently gunned down by police during a routine traffic stop. Add to that, the aftermath was broadcast on Facebook.
I’m counting no less than 10 GoFundMe campaigns currently up alleging to benefit Castile’s family. TEN.
University of Alabama graduate Xavier Burgin — who has no connection to the family whatsoever but is an outspoken critic of police brutality — fired one up with a goal of $80k, of which $63k has been raised thus far.
How are you doing! My name is Xavier Burgin. I started the GoFundMe campaign for Philando Castile’s family. I want to inform everyone this will go to the family and I will take nothing. I want to be as transparent as possible. If you need to ask me any questions, please feel free to.
Burgin also directed potential donors to another campaign started by Castile’s sister, and urged them to donate there if they felt more comfortable doing so. So, while it’s a tad strange that some random guy started the campaign in the first place, he seems to be legit. Let’s hope so considering the money involved.
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the sister’s campaign. Using her Facebook name not real name (which has caused some to question the page, for good reason as it doesn’t match with Castile’s but isn’t all that odd considering some people use different names on FB), she writes:
July 6th 2016 my brother was gunned down by Saint Anthony police for no reason all while his fiancé and 4 year old step daughter in the vehicle . The incident was caught on live streaming via fb . At this time the family is grieving we just lost a very good man never in trouble a law abiding citizen . Please donate anything to help contribute to his homecoming and family . I love you brother – your little big sis Allysza
She has raised a little over $17k of a $30k goal.
If you absolutely must donate to a GoFundMe page at this time — remember, we recommend holding off when the news is at its peak and before close family have designated a legitimate page, if any, to receive donations — then the two above are probably the least likely to be fraudulent.
Next, we have Jeffrey Baker of Baltimore who is using a $1000 goal to make a political statement. Of the $136 collected so far, $100 came from Baker himself. He writes:
I am raising mint for Philando Castile’s family. I do not know the personally and this is the first time I have done anything of this sort. It is time to stand up to all those who look down on our people. This go find me account is the start of a motion for me and people of all color to stand up for our rights and MAKE people give us the respect deserved. I will be reaching out to the family in Baton Rouge to give them a peace of mind. #newmovment in respect of the minorities
Moving on. Verquisha Powers of Saint Paul, MN has put up a campaign asking $20k for Castile’s girlfriend Lavish ‘Diamond’ Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter who witnessed the shooting. She writes:
On July 6th around 9 pm Diamond ‘Lavish’ Reynolds, her 4 year old daughter, and her boyfriend Philando Castile were pulled over for an alleged broken tail light. The officer approached the vehicle and asked Phil for his license and registration. Phil informed the officer that he had a registered firearm and that the information was in his pocket. The officer requested Phil get it, and when he reached towards his pocket the officer shot him 3-5 times in his left side/arm. The whole thing was recorded live on Facebook.
Lavishs’ 4 year old daughter was in the back seat and witnessed the whole thing. She & Lavish will be traumatized by this forever.
The funds from this will help cover
moving/living costs, lost wages from Lavish being out of work, a college fund for her daughter, and savings for the future.
Anything helps. Thank you, and God bless.
It is unclear what, if any, connection Ms. Powers has to the family. As she lives in the area, it’s possible she could be a friend or family of Ms. Reynolds, however we’d urge caution with this one as no statement is made in the plea as to her connection to any of the involved parties.
Next up, Andre Mchenry is asking $20k for “the best lawyers to prosecute the officer that shot and killed Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.” He says he’d like to “show the government we have strength in numbers and can execute as one in legal ways” He makes no mention of a connection to the family, nor how he plans to use this money (just generic ‘lawyers’) so, yeah, don’t donate.
Then we have Sunday Carter, who boasts a whopping 5 whole Facebook friends. If that isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is. Sunday is asking $50k for “brother Philando” and has raised $0 to date. Stay away, stay far away.
The further down the list we go, the more ridiculous the campaigns get, so we’ll stop here. No doubt more will pop up in the next few hours and days, please donate carefully and wait for an official family statement before giving away your money.
There is no denying this is an absolute — and preventable tragedy — and it makes sense, therefore, that generous people would want to give and give freely to support this man’s family and the legal battle ahead. Just please be careful and don’t get caught up in any scams. Scammers love stories like this, and have no problem using this tragedy to profit.