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Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington not defaced during recent protests

June 3, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Photos show the Vietnam Veterans Memorial marred by graffiti as a result of riots after the death of George Floyd.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photos circulating on social media are from 2016 and show a Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica in Los Angeles, which was defaced in that year.

THE FACTS: Posts featuring the misidentified photo were viewed thousands of times on social media on Wednesday, with comments expressing outrage about the damage.

“The Vietnam Memorial defaced by rioters,” read one Facebook post with nearly 80,000 views. “Total disrespect! There are just no words to express my outrage. This wall honors those who gave their last measure of devotion.”

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“The Vietnam Memorial?! Really? Are you still for the cause?!” read another.

But a reverse image search of the photos being shared online revealed they show a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Venice, Los Angeles. They also aren’t current -- the graffiti pictured appeared at the Los Angeles site in 2016 and has since been scrubbed off. 

The Associated Press reported in 2017 on the sentencing of the man who vandalized the Los Angeles replica. He was sentenced to four years in state prison.

But other monuments in the nation’s capital, including the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II memorial, have been damaged during six days of protests following the death of George Floyd, a black resident of Minneapolis. He died after a white officer held him to the ground with his knee for several minutes, even as he said he couldn’t breathe, during an arrest on May 25.

On Wednesday, prosecutors filed a tougher charge against Derek Chauvin, the police officer at the center of the case, and charged three more officers, delivering a victory to protesters galvanized by a death that roused racial tensions and unleashed coast-to-coast unrest.

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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