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GoFundMes started for two teens police injured at Minneapolis protests

Ethan Marks (pictured) is permanently blind in one eye, while Sharon Morara (seen below) will need surgery to repair damage to her lip.

Ethan Marks (pictured) is permanently blind in one eye, while Sharon Morara (seen below) will need surgery to repair damage to her lip. Gofundme.com

On Monday, 17-year-old Sharon Morara created a Gofundme.com page. Its distressing title: “Wrongfully Shot in the Face.”

Morara tells her story. She was out in Minneapolis protesting against police brutality on May 28, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officers. She recalls being near the Third Precinct station, with cops on one side of the road, protesters on the other. Nearby, the Lake Street Target was being looted.

Morara says she wasn’t looting. She didn’t throw anything at the cops. But when the officers started lobbing tear gas into the crowd, she says, she and her friend almost got hit.

“All I remember was that I was standing by this tree, was about to turn around, and I got hit,” Morara writes on her Gofundme.com page. “I felt like I got sniped.”

She says she got rushed to Park Nicollet Hospital and had to wait there until 4 a.m., when she could be transferred to Children’s Hospital, where they had room for her. They stitched her up and sent her home, but she’d need plastic surgery to fix her lip so she’d be able to smile again.

She included a picture in her post, which is pretty graphic. If that’s going to ruin your day, go ahead and scroll past it.

Seventeen-year-old Sharon Morara included this photo with her Gofundme.com page.

Seventeen-year-old Sharon Morara included this photo with her Gofundme.com page. Gofundme.com

“My mom is a single mom, and she recently got the bill for the two hospitals I went to and the ambulance ride,” she writes. “On top of that, my mom has been looking for a plastic surgeon.”

Morara writes she didn’t know how she felt about making this Gofundme, and about the potential attention so soon after a traumatic event. But she needed “help,” and so did her mom.

She’s already beaten her $10,000 goal with $11,893 raised.

Morara, who didn’t respond to interview requests, is one of many people who reports peacefully protesting or observing when they were seriously injured by police.

Another Gofundme page has been created on behalf of college student Ethan Marks, whose mother Anne posted an account of what happened to him on Facebook this week.

Anne says they were part of a community effort to clean up after a protest – the same day Morara says she was protesting -- when they ran into trouble. Or, rather, it ran into them.

“A police officer struck him with a tear gas canister to his face, from just several feet away, right in front of me,” she wrote. "I screamed for help, but no help came from the officers sadly, but from our beloved community. A stranger drove us to the hospital, he saved my son’s life.”

Anne says Ethan is now permanently blind in his right eye, and the right side of his face was crushed. The surgeries required to repair the damage will reportedly take place over the next year. She asked readers to donate to Black and brown causes, but for those interested, Ethan’s Gofundme is here. In just the first 24 hours or so, it had raised over $17,000 of its $50,000 goal.

“Nobody deserves this excessive militant style of policing,” Anne writes. “Mothers should never watch police injure their babies, and then not render aid. It’s inhumane.”

Linda Tirado, a freelance photojournalist from Nashville, is teaming up with the American Civil Liberties Union taking the police to court after a foam bullet broke her safety goggles and blinded her in one eye on the job. Minneapolis police spokesperson John Elder told MPR an officer “may have fired a marking round” at her. Other journalists were tear gassed and pegged with rubber bullets. 

Other known incidents include police allegedly shooting out a local reporter's window while he was trying to get home, and this tear gas drive-by, which inspired a class-action lawsuit on behalf of protesters or bystanders injured by law enforcement's use of less-lethal force.