Radical conservative activists and allies of President Donald Trump quickly began to spread disinformation about the Capitol riots Wednesday, claiming with no evidence that pro-Trump protesters photographed breaking into congressional chambers were anti-fascist activists.
L. Lin Wood, a lawyer behind multiple failed lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results who has also pushed QAnon-related conspiracy theories, tweeted photos of the break-in alongside photos of a pair of notorious American neo-Nazis, claiming that the photos offered "indisputable photographic evidence that antifa violently broke into Congress today."
The claims are typical of many that arise during major news events and particularly violent acts; fringe communities often label them "false flag" attacks meant to push a liberal political agenda. Other events that have been called false-flag attacks include the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
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Almost immediately after reports emerged that a pro-Trump mob, urged on by a speech from the president Wednesday, had broken into the Capitol, efforts to flip the blame began. Televangelist Mark Burns, a longtime Trump supporter, tweeted, "This is NOT a Trump supporter...This is a staged #Antifa attack," along with a photo from the break-in of a popular QAnon follower, Jake Angeli, who is known as the "Q Shaman" for attending protests wearing face paint and an elaborate horned fur costume. Trump's son Eric liked Burns' tweet.
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