Man wearing ‘Make Whites Great Again’ hat in photo is not Minneapolis police officer
CLAIM: A man pictured in a photo wearing a red baseball cap that says “Make Whites Great Again” is Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer videotaped kneeling on the neck of a black man during an arrest. The man, George Floyd, later died.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The man in the photo is not Chauvin. Jonathan Lee Riches, a known internet troll, confirmed he is the man in the photo, but he says the image was altered and he was not wearing the hat.
THE FACTS: On May 27, a photo was shared widely on social media featuring a man wearing a “Make Whites Great Again” hat and holding a blackberry between his thumb and index finger. The hand appeared to be making an OK sign, a gesture that has been used widely by white supremacists.
Facebook and Twitter users shared the image on Wednesday claiming it showed Chauvin. In many cases the photo was juxtaposed with a photo of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
Chauvin and three other police officers were dismissed from the department soon after a video emerged that showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck, even after he complained of being unable to breathe. The death has stirred public outcry and protests.
“Make Whites Great Again” was trending on Twitter on Wednesday after the photo began circulating. Several prominent Twitter users, including Ice Cube, posted the photo under the false impression it showed Chauvin.
While Riches acknowledged it was him in the photo, he said his face was edited into an image that included the “Make Whites Great Again” hat and the fruit. He did not provide the original photo when asked.
Riches is known for creating outrageous posts after tragic and politically charged events. He pretended to be the shooter’s uncle after a 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and was indicted in federal court in 2018 for posing as the gunman who shot former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.
The windows and landscape in the background of the photo appear to match the backgrounds of photos Riches has posted on Facebook, including here and here.
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