No truth to alleged ‘evidence’ that Capitol rioters were antifa activists

National

FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. On Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting that Capitol rioters were antifa activists. At center is Jake Angeli, wearing fur hat with horns, a regular at pro-Trump events and a known follower of QAnon. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(AP) CLAIM: Photos prove that some of the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday were antifa activists, not Trump supporters.

THE FACTS: There’s no credible evidence to date that rioters who breached the Capitol in an effort to stop certification of U.S. presidential election results were supporters of antifa — a shortened form of “anti-fascists” that’s used as an umbrella term for far-left leaning militant groups.

Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters Friday there’s “no indication” at this time that antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in Wednesday’s riot.

One of several false claims circulating online highlights photos of a bearded man in a yellow sweatshirt who appeared in several images taken inside the Capitol after it was stormed. Social media users compared those photos to an image of a bearded man on the website PhillyAntifa.org. “Indisputable photographic evidence that antifa violently broke into Congress today to inflict harm & do damage,” pro-Trump attorney L. Lin Wood Jr. tweeted on Wednesday. “NOT @realDonaldTrump supporters.”

However, a visit to PhillyAntifa.org shows the bearded man was featured on the website to expose him as a “longtime neo-Nazi.” Also, the bearded man at the Capitol riot on Wednesday and the man in the PhillyAntifa.org photo do not appear to be the same person, according to an analysis of images and the body ink on the two men. Either way, the context of the photo on PhillyAntifa.org shows this alleged “evidence” of antifa activists at the Capitol is baseless.

Other posts focused on a shirtless, tattooed man inside the Capitol who was wearing a fur hat with horns and red, white and blue face paint. “FYI These are NOT Trump supporters….Antifa THUGS” read a widely shared post on Facebook that shared a photo with an arrow pointing to the man.

In fact, that man is Jake Angeli, a regular at pro-Trump events and a known follower of QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory based on the idea that Trump is secretly fighting deep state enemies and a cabal of child sex traffickers. Some social media posters pointed to a cropped photo of Angeli from a previous protest to claim it was evidence he was part of the Black Lives Matter movement. It showed Angeli in the foreground and a crowd with an anti-police sign in the background. Social media users seized upon the photo to claim it proved Angeli and others inside the Capitol were left-wing infiltrators.

But Brett Lewis, who had first shared the photo on Twitter, clarified to the AP that he had observed Angeli disrupting a Black Lives Matter event in June, not participating in it. An uncropped photo from the June event shows Angeli’s sign read, “Q SENT ME,” a reference to QAnon. There is photo evidence, however, proving Angeli has attended pro-Trump events for some time. His distinctive tattoos and unique headwear can be seen in a Nov. 7 Associated Press photo at a rally of Trump supporters protesting election results outside of the Maricopa County election center in Phoenix. In that photo, Angeli held a sign that read, “HOLD THE LINE PATRIOTS GOD WINS.” Angeli also expressed his support for the president in an interview with the AP that day. The AP reached out to Angeli on one of his social media accounts for this story but did not hear back.

Another claim circulated in a now-corrected story by The Washington Times falsely suggesting a facial recognition company called XRVision had identified protesters at the Capitol as antifa activists. A founder of XRVision said in a statement that the company identified some individuals at the Capitol as affiliates of “known Nazi organizations,” but not as antifa activists.

— Associated Press writers Ali Swenson in Semora, North Carolina, and Jude Joffe-Block in Phoenix reported this item.

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