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Pittsburgh protester not waving sign with Nazi slogan

May 3, 2020 GMT
In this photo from Monday, April 20, 2020, hundreds of protesters gather outside the City County Building during a rally for the opening of businesses in Pittsburgh, Pa. On Friday, May 1, 2020, The Associated Press reported on an altered version of this photo circulating online that was changed to show the sign reading, “Work Sets You Free” -- a translation from the German of the Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei.” (Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
In this photo from Monday, April 20, 2020, hundreds of protesters gather outside the City County Building during a rally for the opening of businesses in Pittsburgh, Pa. On Friday, May 1, 2020, The Associated Press reported on an altered version of this photo circulating online that was changed to show the sign reading, “Work Sets You Free” -- a translation from the German of the Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei.” (Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

CLAIM: Pittsburgh protester waves sign stating Nazi slogan “Work Sets You Free.” 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The image has been manipulated. The original photo posted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on April 20 shows the protester holding a sign stating, “Free small business!” Although Nazi slogans were, in fact, used at a separate protest in Illinois on Friday.

THE FACTS: Several Twitter users posted the altered image along with photos of entrances to Nazi concentration and death camps where iron gates bear the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Work Sets You Free.” One tweet featuring the fabricated image was posted on May 1 and had over 600 retweets. 

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Post-Gazette photographer Andrew Rush posted the image to Twitter on April 20. The manipulated photo shows the woman standing through a car sunroof holding up a sign featuring the altered text “Work Sets You Free.” 

The image was captured as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the City-County Building in Pittsburgh to demonstrate against Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. Protesters paraded through the city in cars waving handcrafted signs and honking horns, according to the Post-Gazette. 

Throughout the country, people -- some heavily armed -- have gathered to protest their belief that the stay-at-home orders for COVID-19 are unnecessary, hurting the economy, and violating the rights of U.S. citizens. 

In a separate incident in Illinois, some protesters were, in fact, holding up signs with Nazi slogans. 

At a “Reopen Illinois” protest on Friday in Illinois, Nazi slogans were present. At least two signs bearing Nazi slogans were displayed. One sign that was widely shared stated “Arbeit macht frei, J.B.” Another said “Heil, Pritzker” and featured a swastika.

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This item has been updated to add details about a separate protest in Illinois where Nazi slogans were, in fact, used, to avoid confusion with the doctored photo from Pittsburgh.

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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

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