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People who disrupted Italy ‘Krampus’ festival were local volunteers, not migrants

December 12, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows migrants trying to disrupt a parade of St. Nicholas in Austria only to have men dressed as Krampus, a goat-like Central European folk figure with horns, defend the festival. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Event organizers posted on Facebook to say that the people in the video seen running from the devilish characters were locals dressed in padded clothing who volunteered to be part of the festivities in a town in northern Italy. The town’s mayor also said no migrants were attacked at the event.

THE FACTS: The video was taken Dec. 5 in Vipiteno-Sterzing in northern Italy, where locals were celebrating the Krampus tradition. In the video, people are running from locals dressed as Krampus, a folkloric character who punishes misbehaving children during the Christmas season. The Krampus character strikes the people running down the street with bundles of birch branches. At one point in the video, two people dressed as Krampus can be seen striking and kicking a man who has fallen to the ground. 

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Social media users began sharing the video after the event to suggest that it showed migrants disrupting Christmas festivities. The organizers of the event, “Tuifl Sterzing,” posted a statement on Facebook after the claims began circulating online to address the misinformation. 

In the statement, the organizers say that the people seen in the video are not migrants but locals wearing padded clothing who volunteered to provoke the Krampus characters.

“The racist accusations have no bearing in truth,” the statement reads. “The youth being whipped in the video are friends and acquaintances of the devils of Vipiteno.”

The group’s page includes photos of people dressed as Krampus, wearing horns, red clothing and black paint on their faces. 

The mayor of the town, Fritz-Karl Messner, spoke out to local news outlets confirming that no migrants were insulted or attacked at the event.

Messner told Rai News 24, an Italian news outlet, that for outsiders the whipping may seem strange, but it is all part of the Krampus tradition. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.


Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536