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Officer who kneeled on black man’s neck was not onstage at Minneapolis Trump rally

May 28, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Social media posts say a man pictured onstage at a 2019 Donald Trump rally is the Minneapolis police officer who was videotaped kneeling on a black man’s neck during an arrest on Monday.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The man pictured in these posts is Bloomington Police Federation President Mike Gallagher, not Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. 

THE FACTS: Social media posts that showed police officers onstage at the Trump rally in Minneapolis last October misidentified a man in the pictures as Chauvin, a Minneapolis officer involved in the arrest of George Floyd, who died after being held to the ground by the officer, even after stating he could not breathe.

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The posts included photos of police officers onstage with the president, smiling in shirts that said “Cops for Trump.” Social media users falsely claimed one of the officers pictured was Chauvin. The incident has led to public outcry and protests.

“Photos Released on Social Media Appeared to Show Minneapolis Police Officer Who Murdered George Floyd,” read the headline of a Facebook post by left-leaning news website the Political Tribune, which had racked up nearly 120,000 views on Wednesday. 

“Did this murder ‘Make America great again?’ read a post retweeted more than 1,700 times.

But the widespread photos actually show Bloomington Police Federation President Mike Gallagher, not Chauvin, according to Minneapolis police union president Lt. Bob Kroll.

“Can you put a stop to the false narrative please?” Kroll told the AP. “None of the officers in the incident were near the Trump rally.”

A 2019 video from the city of Bloomington, Minnesota, shows Gallagher explaining how winter weather affects police duties. The man in this video is the same person who was pictured onstage at Trump’s rally. 

Gallagher did not return a request for comment.

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Associated Press writer Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this story.

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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