The claim: 'Peaceful' Black Lives Matter protesters beat up a 72-year-old man
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.
A post of the meme to Facebook on Sept. 17 claims the assault happened during a Black Lives Matter protest.
"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 also mirrors one fact-checked by USA TODAY allegedly showing a BLM protester beating a white mother.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"It’s not acceptable, our country as a whole has failed to do it, that's it,” Page said, according to KMOV.
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?"
USA TODAY, Jul. 8, 2020, "Fact Check: Viral video does not show Black Lives Matter supporter beating a white mother"
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'?"
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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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Claim that BLM protesters attacked 72-year-old is false