Fact checkers shine skeptical spotlight on protest claims from authorities, president

Amid nationwide protests and clashes with police, officials, including President Donald Trump, gave claims about protesters and events that were quickly and commonly debunked by fact checkers.


President Donald Trump tweeted a conspiracy theory last week about Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old activist seen on camera getting pushed to the ground by police during a June 4 protest in Buffalo, New York. After he hit the ground, blood pooled around his head.


"The Buffalo protester shoved by police could be an ANTIFA provocateur," the president tweeted, then accused Gugino of trying to "black out" police equipment.

Our partners at say the president gave no evidence for the claims, which came from a dubious website.

In addition, while Gugino has made critical comments about the police on Twitter, those comments don't make him part of Antifa, which isn't an organization, rather an umbrella term for far-left anti-fascists. also noted there's no evidence that Gugino, holding up what his lawyer says was a cell phone, was trying to disrupt police communications. also looked into a June 1 incident — where police used force to break up a demonstration outside the White House.

The Trump administration says tear gas was not used.

But authorities did deploy pepper balls.

Those contain an irritant similar to pepper spray — which Attorney General William Barr tried to claim is not a chemical irritant.

But our partners at say that contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — as well as the Department of Justice.

Both classify pepper spray as a chemical agent.

Amid the protests, this meme on social media is spreading showing the Lincoln Memorial covered in graffiti.

But says the image was doctored, adding that vandalism never happened.

The fact-checking newsroom traced the photo back to a conservative website.

In fact, the only graffiti at the Lincoln Memorial was at the steps — far from the statue — and it has already been removed.