Hundreds of thousands of fundraiser dollars have poured in for an Idaho deputy marshal who was reportedly suspended after his TikTok video mocked NBA superstar LeBron James and stirred up national debate about law enforcement’s use of deadly force.
Bellevue Deputy Marshal Nate Silvester, using his @nateswildn TikTok account, posted a video last week in which he pretended to call the Los Angeles Lakers player to discuss a stabbing incident in progress. The video, which has since been viewed 4 million times, was prompted by James’ tweeted demand for “accountability” from police officers following the police shooting death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who was holding a knife when Columbus, Ohio, police responded with deadly force on April 20.
Silvester’s controversial response reportedly led to his suspension and responses from James himself.
Supporters using a GoFundMe account have raised about $385,000 in the five days since the fundraiser was created for Silvester.
The now-viral video exposed a rift and debate between what some say is a wide divide between supporters of police and celebrities involved in social activist movements like Black Lives Matter.
The Bellevue Marshal’s Office acknowledged last Monday that at least one formal citizen complaint had been made against Silvester and that his conduct is under investigation, the Idaho Statesman reported Saturday. But Idaho agency officials have declined to confirm if he’s been suspended in the interim. The Bellevue Marshal’s Office did not respond Monday morning to a Newsweek request for additional details.
“These additional funds will go to support Nate and many other officers through a new non-profit focused on police advocacy…. His focus now is on other officers and their families in similar situations!” wrote the creator of the GoFundMe page, Gannon Ward, over the weekend.
Silvester personally thanked supporters and donors to the GoFundMe page in a video posted last Thursday.
“The vast majority of people in our country are amazing, decent, passionate, generous people; we just don’t get to hear from these people very often,” he said. “This right here, this is exactly how we hear from you. This speaks volumes. I never would have fathomed that we would have come this far…. America still loves its police officers. America still loves its men and women in blue.
Latching on his tens of thousands of new followers on social media, Silvester has kickstarted several hashtags and movements that seek to offer support for law enforcement officers who may find themselves on the wrong side of public, or social media, approval. Silvester has promoted “#HumanizeTheBade” and “Copsoftiktok” hashtags, which have led to numerous copycat videos and remix editions of his initial video mocking James.
After body camera footage of the Bryant shooting was made public, James deleted his tweet.