12-17-2017  7:04 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Exhibit Explores the Legacy of Portland Bird Watchers

Dedicated bird watchers catapult a conservationist movement ...

Special Call for Stories about the Spanish Flu

Genealogical Forum of Oregon seeks stories from the public about one of history's most lethal outbreaks ...

Joint Office of Homeless Services Announces Severe Weather Strategy

Those seeking shelter should call 211 or visit 211.org. Neighbors needed to volunteer, donate cold-weather apparel ...

Q&A with Facebook's Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams

A conversation on diversity and the tech industry ...

City Announces Laura John as Tribal Liason

Laura John brings an extensive background in tribal advocacy and community engagement to the city of Portland ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Don’t Delay, Sign-up for Affordable Healthcare Today

The deadline to enroll or modify healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act is December 15. ...

The Skanner Editorial: Alabama Voters Must Reject Moore

Allegations of predatory behavior are troubling – and so is his resume ...

Payday Lenders Continue Attack on Consumer Protections

Charlene Crowell of the Center for Responsible Lending writes that two bills that favor predatory lenders has received bipartisan...

Hundreds Rallied for Meek Mill, but What About the Rest?

Lynette Monroe, a guest columnist for the NNPA Newswire, talks about Meek Mill, the shady judge that locked him up and mass...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Protester with sign demanding Darren Wilson's arrest
Jim Suhr, Associated Press

Protester Hana Kato, of Tacoma, Wash., holds a sign that reads "Arrest Darren Wilson" as she attends an evening rally Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Tacoma, Wash. Wilson has been identified as the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, an event that has sparked nightly clashes between protesters and police. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

UPDATE: A crowdfunding site has raised $230,000 for Police Officer Darren Wilson. The Go Fund Me web page "Support Officer Wilson" shows that 5,775 people have contributed to the fund since it was started  four days ago. The site says the goal is to raise $250,000. 

The Michael Brown Memorial Fund on the same site has raised $161,646 from 5,783 people over eight days. 

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A white police officer whose shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old ignited racial upheaval in a St. Louis suburb has been characterized as either an aggressor whose deadly gunfire constituted a daylight execution or a law enforcer wrongly maligned for just doing his job.

An incomplete picture of Texas-born Ferguson officer Darren Wilson has emerged since Aug. 9, when authorities say the white six-year police veteran killed Michael Brown during a confrontation in the predominantly black city where all but three of the 53 police officers are white.

The Brown family's attorneys have labeled Wilson as a murderer, though the investigation continues and no charges have been filed. The 28-year-old officer has gone underground since the shooting, with relatives contacted by The Associated Press refusing to reveal his whereabouts or discuss the shooting or Wilson's background.

But snippets of his life have emerged. His parents were married only four years before divorcing in 1989 in Texas. Court records say he divorced last November. His mother, a convicted forger and alleged con artist, died 12 years ago. Wilson got a commendation in February from the Ferguson police force, four years into his job there.

An online fundraising drive on Wilson's behalf as of Thursday had drawn more than $77,000 in donations for the tall, slender and blond-haired cop. And a longtime friend — former high school classmate and hockey buddy Jake Shepard — publicly has come to Wilson's defense, insisting in interviews that the shy Wilson would never maliciously take a life and fears possible retribution.

Having talked to Wilson since the shooting, Shepard said, "I think he's kind of struggling a little bit, but I think he's doing OK."

"He didn't really want to talk much about it," Shepard, also 28, said of Brown's death. "But I can tell you for sure it was not racially motivated. He's not the type of person to harbor any hate for anybody. He was always nice, respectable and well-mannered, a gentleman. He doesn't have anything bad to say about anybody, ever. He's very genuine."

Similar depictions of Wilson, who has been on paid administrative leave since Brown's death, have come from his boss, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson.

During a Ferguson City Council meeting in February, Wilson got special recognition from Jackson for what the chief said then was his role in responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle, then struggling with the driver and detaining him for arrest until help arrived. Jackson said the suspect was preparing a large quantity of marijuana for sale. His proclamation in hand, according a video of the meeting obtained Tuesday by the AP, Wilson returned to his seat with a broad grin.

"He was a gentle, quiet man," Jackson told reporters last Friday while publicly identifying Wilson, a four-year veteran of the department after spending two policing in nearby Jennings, as the officer who shot Brown, noting that Wilson has no prior disciplinary record. Calling Wilson "distinguished" and "a gentleman," Jackson added that "he is, he has been, an excellent officer."

Online court records show that Wilson's mother — Tonya Durso, also known as Tonya Harris — pleaded guilty in 2001 to a dozen felony stealing and forgery counts in Missouri's St. Charles County just west of St. Louis and was sentenced to five years on probation, with the judge suspending a five-year prison sentence. Durso was 35 when she died in 2002, and Wilson was placed under the guardianship of Tyler Harris until a St. Charles County judge dissolved that in mid-2004.

Wilson, who has Missouri hunting and fishing licenses, did not answer the AP's knock Tuesday on his door at his brick, ranch-style home in Missouri's Crestwood, a largely white St. Louis suburb some 18 miles southwest of Ferguson.

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Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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