The feel-good story of celebrity support for bullied 11-year-old Keaton Jones took some unfortunate if familiar turns today, with the surfacing of old social media posts suggesting racism in his mom’s recent past. Hollywood, though, seems to be standing by the boy.
“I”m still #KeatonStrong,” tweeted Orange is the New Black‘s Nick Stevenson, while in a video accompanying the tweet he says to Kimberly Jones, “Shame on you. I really want to swear so bad” and “A lot of people are feeling really stupid out there today, including myself.”
“Keaton didn’t get to choose the family that raised & shaped him, you smug ghoul,” tweeted Patton Oswalt to a twitter follower who asked whether he’d withdraw support after the allegations of racism. To another challenger, Oswalt said, “Keaton’s a little kid — his family hasn’t allowed him any real perspective yet.”
See those and other tweets below. And obviously, this story is developing.
A Deadline article Sunday about Hollywood’s support for the boy included numerous celebrity tweets, and even more messages were posted last night and today, including notes of encouragement from Justin Bieber, Terry Crews, Jennifer Lopez, rock band Nickelback, The Walking Dead‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eyewitness‘ Tyler Young, Lebron James and others.
Last night, Jarrett Guarantano, a freshman quarterback for the University of Tennessee Volunteers, even tweeted that he’d spent the day with his “new best bud” Keaton:
But the attention also drew public curiosity and the surfacing of the prior social media posts from Kimberly Jones, Keaton’s mother. In addition to pictures of confederate flags, the old posts crudely criticize Colin Kaepernick and others protesting police brutality against black Americans. Some accounts include allegations of racism against the 11-year-old boy, saying he was bullied because he used racial epithets.
And earlier today, Gregory Clay, the principal of Keaton’s middle school, told local press that bullying isn’t “as rampant as the video would have you believe.” He also said the incident had happened prior to Friday, and the students involved dealt with. He didn’t contradict the incident itself, though: “Everybody saw the video and it was horrible. We don’t want anyone to feel like that. Keaton’s a good kid. We’ll take care of him.”
Kimberly Jones’ Facebook page, which had posted the bullying video, has been either taken down or closed to views.
(An Instagram post, allegedly written by Keaton Jones and apologizing for his mother’s past actions, was deleted after its authenticity was convincingly debunked.)
More than 20 million people over the weekend viewed a viral video of Keaton tearfully asking why bullies bully, and the poignant clip moved numerous Hollywood actors, hip hop artists and athletes to reach out to the boy with support and invitations – including Chris Evans, who asked the boy to attend next year’s L.A. premiere of Avengers: Infinity War.
The attention also drew financial support – a Go Fund Me page for the boy surpassed $58,000 today (Deadline could not verify the page’s connection to the Jones family; by late afternoon, the page had stopped accepting donations.)
Here are some of the latest tweets weighing in: