Several groups of right-wing militias descended on Gettysburg National Park in Pennsylvania on July 4 after conspiracy theory websites spread a quickly debunked rumor that antifa was going to burn American flags at the Civil War battlefield.
The antifa flag-burning event started on Facebook, and the listing was eventuallyremoved, but not before getting the attention of right-wing websites and social media, along with the rumor’s evolution to include a massacre of white people and burning of homes.
Police in Gettysburg previously debunked the rumors, while not actually addressing the conspiracy theories.
“We want to assure those we serve that we are taking all precautions at our disposal to maintain the safety of all residents and visitors to the area as well as the protection of property to include businesses, homes, monuments, churches and other historical treasures located in the greater Gettysburg area,” Gettysburg Borough Police Chief Robert Glenny Jr. wrote.
Police did end up coming to the defense of one person: Trent Somes, a pastor who was in the Gettysburg cemetery wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt. After being surrounded by dozens of people, police escorted Somes out safely out of the cemetery.
“For his own safety, federal law enforcement made the decision to remove him, and he was escorted out of the cemetery,” Jason Martz, acting public affairs officer for Gettysburg National Military Park, told the Washington Post.
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