The violence at Charlottesville, VA has sparked widespread misinformation as observers try to piece together what took place at the demonstration-gone-wrong–an incident which resulted in three people being killed.
Following the chaotic events, left-leaning Twitter users began circulating a photo allegedly showing President Trump with a right-wing demonstrator who was present at Charlottesville. However, subsequent analysis shows the image was photo-shopped. Trump never met the protester in question.
The highly-retweeted picture supposedly depicts a Twitter user with the handle @Millennial_Matt in a side-by-side selfie with Donald Trump. The president’s critics then paired this image to one of @Millennial_Matt at the Charlottesville protests.
However, as another Twitter user pointed out, the picture of @Millennial_Matt and Trump (which @Millennial_Matt uses as his profile picture) is in fact photo-shopped. The two never appeared together for a photo-op.
The actual picture of Trump shows him with another individual. @Millennial_Matt simply transposed his face onto the image as a way of showing his support of President Trump. There is no known relationship between the two.
Interestingly, the user whose face has now been shared so widely on Twitter does not associate with the white supremacist groups accused of violence on Saturday. Nor does he consider himself belonging to the “alt-right.”
As @Millennial_Matt stated on Twitter, he belongs to a group called the Proud Boys. According to Huffington Post, the Proud Boys are a fraternal “pro-West” organization created by Gavin McInnes, a Canadian writer and entrepreneur who founded Vice Media.
Unlike other groups in the alt-right, the Proud Boys do not focus on race, but rather Western culture and values. There are Proud Boys chapters all around the country. This year, the Proud Boys began a street-fighting wing of their organization, known as the “Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights.” They claim to train for self-defense against groups like the left-leaning Antifa.
However, the Proud Boys were not present at the “Unite the Right” event at Charlottesville, as stated on Official Proud Boys. In fact, the organization disavowed the actions of the white supremacists and made efforts to distance themselves from the neo-Nazis and KKK members receiving media attention.
McInnes himself has a Native American wife and children and has repeatedly spoken out against racism. Although @Millenial_Matt’s picture was widely circulated, apparently he has a distinct ideology from the race-oriented groups present at the Virginia demonstrations. These differences indicate the existence of diverse groups in what is considered the political “right.”
The local police force also received criticism for their handling of the situation at Charlottesville. As CNN reported, the police stood on the sidelines as skirmishes broke out between left-wing Antifa and white supremacists.
Conservative icon Allen West wrote a detailed analysis of the tragic incident, as covered by Christian News Alerts. Because the city had granted “Unite the Right” a permit months in advance, efforts should have been made to keep them separate from the left-wing counter-protesters who appeared.
The violence at Charlottesville was a haunting incident for America, and the public is still trying to determine exactly what happened. Fake news being circulated will definitely not help anyone’s understanding and will more than likely only incite more hatred and violence.