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US Fact check: Picture of 'Black Lives Matter protesters' attacking a white man is misleading

04:35  01 october  2020
04:35  01 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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The claim: 'Peaceful' Black Lives Matter protesters beat up a 72-year-old man

a group of people standing in front of a statue: Moji Sidiqi (holding sign), executive director of the Regional Muslim Action Network in St. Louis, Missouri, points to a statue of French king and city namesake King Louis IX. The king's treatment of Jews another other minorities has prompted activists to call for its removal, and for changing the name of St. Louis. © Courtesy of Moji Sidiqi Moji Sidiqi (holding sign), executive director of the Regional Muslim Action Network in St. Louis, Missouri, points to a statue of French king and city namesake King Louis IX. The king's treatment of Jews another other minorities has prompted activists to call for its removal, and for changing the name of St. Louis.

A picture of a white man being assaulted by a group of Black men at a protest in St. Louis is not what it seems.

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Black Lives Matter protesters harangued and harassed Republican National Convention guests as they left the White House Thursday night, according to a series of videos posted to social media. Tensions boiled over when a white man appeared at the protests wearing black face, with one

Our live coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests has moved here. Police in Richmond, Virginia declared an unlawful assembly tonight after protesters attempted to pull down a statue No, I will not step aside. It is my plan to continue to charge cases based upon the facts rather than the rantings of

A post of the meme to Facebook on Sept. 17 claims the assault happened during a Black Lives Matter protest.

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"Here you see a peaceful Black lives matter protesters beating up a 72 yr. old white man. Please make this go viral!!! F****ng disgusting," the meme states. USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.

The post went viral amid recent allegations of violent incidents during demonstrations. A report by the US Crisis Monitor found 93% of protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement have been peaceful.

The claim is similar to another from this summer, suggesting the white man in the picture was a Catholic priest. Snopes debunked it in June.

The claim also mirrors one fact-checked by USA TODAY allegedly showing a BLM protester beating a white mother.

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Where was the picture taken?

On June 27, protesters in St. Louis gathered at the statue of King Louis IX of France for a planned prayer rally organized by Jim Hoft, founder of conservative online news publication The Gateway Pundit.

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Black lives did not matter when they were attacked by dogs as they protested for equal rights. Let me be clear: our stating that black lives matter doesn’t insinuate that other lives don’t. But the fact that white people get so upset about the term black lives matter is proof that nothing can center the

"It’s time the good God-fearing men in this country stand up," Hoft wrote about the rally. "We cannot allow the continued assault on our country, our history and our culture."

The rally was a response to a petition calling to remove the statue of King Louis — the city's namesake — from Forest Park and to rename the city. The French king was an anti-Semite and Islamaphobe, according to petitioners Umar Lee and Moji Sidiqi, of Muslims for Greater St. Louis, and Ben Poremba, an Israeli-American restauranteur, according to STL Jewish Light.

USA TODAY reported in July the petition is part of a growing movement to rename mountains, parks and other landmarks commemorating symbols of oppression.

Louis IX, who died in 1297, is the only king of France to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church after his death, according to Catholic Online. During his reign, Louis IX ordered the burning of 12,000 copies of the Talmud, the Jewish holy script, and other Jewish books. He also attacked an Egyptian port considered the seat of Muslim power during a crusade in the mid-1200s.

Following Hoft's announcement, Lee planned a counter-protest at the St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park and called on "all who oppose racism, the White Nationalism of the Trump administration, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia to attend," in a June 24 tweet.

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“ Black lives only matter to black people when it’s a white person killing us The rant is similar to another viral video we featured last week in which a St Louis area African-American woman complained about how ‘ Black Lives Matter ’ protesters were up in arms over a man who was shot after pointing a

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Tensions ran high at St. Louis protest

Several dozen mostly white Catholics and members of white supremacist groups converged at the statue, where they clashed with counter-protesters. In attendance were members of the Proud Boys, classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, The St. Louis American reported. Two members, Mike Lasater and Luke Rohlfing, confirmed their participation on Twitter.

St. Louis Today, the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, posted a picture of members of the Invaders Motorcycle Club — a group that uses Nazi symbols, according to the Anti-Defamation League — in front of the statue during the protest. The paper estimated about 200  protesters and counter-protesters attended the rally.

St. Louis Today published a series of images showing the altercation between counter-protesters and the man who appears in the photos of these multiple claims. He is wearing a lime green shirt with black lettering.

Staff photographer Robert Cohen told USA TODAY the man's age and identity couldn't be verified. A caption states he was one of many Catholic supporters asked to leave the area by counter-protesters.

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Not a priest from DC

Several viral claims online state the man being assaulted in the photo is 80-year-old Father Thomas Haake of the Archdioceses of Washington.

Haake was misidentified as the man in the green shirt at the St. Louis protest in a false claim posted to Instagram, according to Snopes.

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A self-described Ku Klux Klan leader has been arrested for allegedly driving his car into a group of Black Lives Matters protesters gathered on Sunday in the US state of Virginia. "An attack on peaceful protesters is heinous and despicable and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law

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Local CBS affiliate WUSA9 has fact-checked a claim stating Haake was assaulted by BLM members in Washington, D.C. The report found that while Haake was injured, it was unclear what happened.

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Who is the man in the green shirt?

A deleted Facebook post by user Paul EM dated June 27 — accessible via a web archive site — features a selfie of a white man wearing a lime green shirt. In the caption, the user said he got his "jaw jacked and glasses broken" at the St. Louis rally. Paul's face mask is pulled down to reveal an abrasion on his chin. He appears to be the same man in Cohen's images.

"People praying the rosary, a few clergy, holy men and women speaking the truth," Paul wrote. "But mostly the ignorant, fornicators and violent taking control. Everything being filmed."

USA TODAY reached out to Paul EM for comment.

A June 29 Facebook post also written by Paul EM was linked in a Snopes fact-check story about the rally.

In the post, which is accessible now through a web archive, Paul said he loved Black people but was against "the Radical Muslim Group that organized the counter protest against the catholic prayerful."

He admitted to having a knife in his pocket during the altercation, but did not "brandish" it until after he was hit by protesters.

"I applaud the guy for hitting me," Paul shared, "because he was told I was a KKK member by the Regional Muslim Action Network and Tishaura Jones (our treasurer for St. Louis.)"

A picture of Paul flexing his biceps as he was escorted from the statue is included in the St. Louis Today article.

In the meme's photo, the Black man wearing a blue bandanna who is poised to hit Paul was identified as Terrence Page. He told local CBS affiliate KMOV4 he thought rally attendees were members of terrorist groups who needed to be met with force.

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"It’s not acceptable, our country as a whole has failed to do it, that's it,” Page said, according to KMOV.

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Our rating: False

We rate this claim FALSE, based on our research. The claim inaccurately states a 72-year-old white man was beaten during a Black Lives Matter protest. The picture was taken during a rally and counter-protest over the statue of St. Louis, and the man's age has not been verified.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Snopes, Jul. 2, 2020, "Were Catholics Attacked by Black Lives Matter Protesters in St. Louis?"
  • WUSA9, Jul. 1, 2020, "VERIFY: Yes, a Catholic priest visiting DC was injured, but his photo is spurring unfounded rumors"
  • USA TODAY, Jul. 8, 2020, "Fact Check: Viral video does not show Black Lives Matter supporter beating a white mother"
  • KMOV4, Jul. 9, 2020, "WANTED: 2 men accused of assaulting protesters at King Louis IX statue in Forest Park [Update]"
  • KMOV4, Jul. 14, 2020, "Man seen throwing punches at Louis IX statue charged after speaking with News 4"
  • PolitiFact, Aug. 7, 2020, "Black Lives Matter 'injures 1000 police officers kills 36 people and does $8 billion in damage.'"
  • The US Crisis Monitor, Sept. 3, 2020, "DEMONSTRATIONS & POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN AMERICA: NEW DATA FOR SUMMER 2020"
  • Change.org, retrieved Sept. 18, 2020, "Change The Name of St. Louis"
  • STL Jewish Light, June 24, 2020, "Petition seeks removal of St. Louis statue, city name change"
  • USA TODAY, Jul. 3, 2020, "The fight over monuments asks who is an American hero and who is a 'symbol of hate'?"
  • Umar Lee, June 24, 2020, tweet
  • Mike Lasater, June 27, 2020, tweet
  • Luke Rohlfing, June 27, 2020, tweet
  • Anti-Defamation League, retrieved Sept. 18, 2020, "Bigots on Bikes: The Growing Links between White Supremacists and Biker Gangs"
  • Southern Poverty Law Center, retrieved Sept. 18, 2020, "Proud Boys"
  • St. Louis Today, June 27, 2020, "Photos: Protest over statue of St. Louis' namesake comes to a head"

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Picture of 'Black Lives Matter protesters' attacking a white man is misleading

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