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Fact check: How a group of right-wingers spread a lie that Black Lives Matter stormed Iowa’s Capitol Fact check: How a group of right-wingers spread a lie that Black Lives Matter stormed Iowa’s Capitol

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Some of them explicitly stated that the protesters had forced their entry into the building. Another suggested that what happened in Des Moines was “exactly” like what had happened at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 6th.

It was not like that. Not even close. Because Iowa protesters did not storm the state Capitol.

The imaginary storm saga of the Iowa Capitol offers another troubling example of how even unsophisticated lies can be thrown on the net faster than the truth. It also shows, once again, how the right-wing disinformation ecosystem often works: a false initial statement is spread over and over again, reaching an ever-growing audience, by people and publications who are not interested. to do not even basic research to see if this initial statement is true.

Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said “there are influential right-wing determinants who act as a catalyst for a cascade of inaccurate claims.” These influencers, he said, will tweet about an image or video with a false description attached, giving inaccurate shape to perceptions of a last-minute event. Other influencers aligned with them “will repeat the lie through blogs and social media,” Donovan said in an email.

“When the claim is inevitably rejected, these proponents of misinformation shrink and say the mainstream media is lying or leading it to the chaos of the latest news. Unfortunately, the public and movements like Black Lives Matter are the ones paying the price for scale-amplified misinformation, ”Donovan said. “Social media companies know how this pattern works, but they’ve done little to prevent it from happening again and again.”

What happened at the Iowa Capitol

The Iowa protest, entitled “Kill Racist Bills,” was organized by the activist group Lawyers for social justice. The event directed a series of proposals from Republican state lawmakers.
He proposals would, among other things, increase sanctions for protest-related offenses, provide additional legal protection to police officers and new civil immunity to people who inadvertently hit protesters with their cars, negar state funding to local governments that reduce their police budgets by a larger percentage than those that reduce global budgets and prohibited public entities do not conduct compulsory education or impart school curricula that promote various “divisive concepts,” such as that the United States and Iowa are systematically racist or sexist.
Protesters had a permit for the outside and inside of the building. Like a live Facebook video of one of the protesters he showed, and as Iowa reporters later pointed out at the scene, protesters walked one by one through a security checkpoint. Angelina Ramirez, co-organizer of the protest, told CNN that prior to her entry, she and a co-worker “asked the Capitol security and the Iowa State Patrol how they would prefer us to enter the line. security, hence the line of a single file “.

Once protesters made their way through security, they shouted, sang and lay on the ground for 9 minutes and 29 seconds to symbolize the death of George Floyd last May.

A protester was detained and accused of assaulting an Iowa state patrol officer. The officer claimed the 18-year-old high school girl “grabbed” and “pushed” him after repeatedly asking him for his name and badge number, which caused him to momentarily lose his balance and other protesters to behave. ” belligerent “in response to the arrest.
Other protesters told CNN that any physical contact with the officer was involuntary and minor, that the arrest was unjustified and that the officer used excessive force.
Regardless of what happened in the incident, the Iowa Capitol was certainly not “assaulted,” let alone the site of the “insurrection” of some right-wing commentators. claimed had occurred.
Jeff Angelo, a former Republican state senator in Iowa, dedicated part of his Des Moines radio program to disassembly of claims that the state Capitol had been the target of an insurrection, repeatedly pointing out that protesters were legally present and that loud, heated protests are common in the building. Angelo attributed the false claims about what had happened on Thursday to “some harsh feelings about what happened on January 6 at the Capitol” and “to a right-wing national media that likes this kind of clicks.”

“Trying to call it an insurrection and compare it to January 6: that, my friends, is ridiculous. They went through the metal detectors, they checked the temperature, they had a right to protest. If some of them came out of the line, then the Capitol state police did their job, ”Angelo said.

How this lie spread

On Thursday, at 1:50 p.m., a Twitter account using the alias CIA-Simulation Warlord published a video clip titled “Passing Now: BLM in the Iowa State Capitol Building.”
At 2:18 p.m., a Twitter account using the alias Suburban Black Man he tweeted the same 70-second clip. Although the clip only showed peaceful protest (some protesters shouted, others lay on the ground), the Suburban Black Man account claimed that Black Lives Matter protesters had “forced their way into the Capitol building of the Black Sea. Iowa State. It looks VERY insurgent. “

Again, this is not true. But the truth didn’t seem to matter to some.

A 40-minute tweet from Suburban Black Man, The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website with a long history of promoting baseless conspiracy theories, echoed Suburban Black Man’s false statement in an article stating that “Black Lives Matter militants stormed the Iowa State Capitol” and “had entered the building.” Seven minutes later, a conservative website based in Canada, the Post Millennial, published a article this began, “BLM activists have appeared to force their way into the Iowa State Capitol building.”
Right-wing personality David J. Harris Jr., who had more than 595,000 followers on Twitter soon repeated the false claim that the Iowa Capitol was assaulted. So did a right-wing personality with more than 260,000 followers as of Monday, Ian Miles Cheong, who linked in the Post Millennial article. Other right-wing websites included National Archive i The new American, also extended the claim that day.
In the afternoon, Iowa journalists from Iowa Public Radio, el Register of Monks and the Ames Tribune all had denied the claim that the Capitol had been assaulted. But the next morning, Andy Ngô, a general editor of the Post Millennial who had more than 800,000 followers on Twitter as of Monday, repeated the claim.

Frustration of activists

Co-organizer of the protest, Harold Walehwa, told CNN that he was “frustrated and not surprised” when he saw the false claims of “storm” go viral.

Former President Donald Trump, several Republican members of Congress and right-wing websites and personalities have made a determined effort: both of us before i after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, to portray left-wing activists and Black Lives Matter as a major threat to the country.

“I feel like there was a desperate attempt to discredit our targets and paint people of color as violent insurgents,” Walehwa said in an email. He added that “we had a permit to be there.”

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