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Photo does not show protester aiming gun at armed homeowners in St. Louis

June 30, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Photo shows homeowner aiming a handgun at an armed protester in front her mansion in St. Louis.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The protester is not holding a gun, but a video camera and microphone.

THE FACTS: On Sunday, as protesters in St. Louis marched through the city’s Central West End neighborhood to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, they were confronted by a white couple pointing guns at them. A photo taken from behind the protesters showing the couple pointing their guns at the group also captures an elongated object in the corner of the frame.

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Social media users are now misrepresenting the photo to say it shows a protester brandishing a gun as the white woman points a handgun at him.

“Take a look...Some say gun...Some say microphone. Looks like a gun at this angel,” said one post, misspelling angle.

In fact, the photo shows a protester holding a video camera and microphone, according to a caption with the photo, which was taken by Lawrence Bryant for Reuters. A video screen attached to the camera can be seen next to the microphone. Another photo taken by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows the man also holding a directional microphone often referred to as a “shotgun” mic.

In video from the confrontation, Mark McCloskey, 63, and his 61-year-old wife, Patricia, can be seen pointing guns at the protesters outside their Renaissance palazzo-style home Sunday night.

Mark McCloskey told KMOV-TV that he and his wife were facing an “angry mob” of protesters and feared for their lives. Their attorney, Albert Watkins, told The Associated Press that the couple, who claims to support the Black Lives Matter movement, grabbed their guns when white protesters violently threatened them.

The protesters were on their way to Krewson’s house to call for her resignation after she read the names and addresses of those who wrote letters asking to defund the police force during a Facebook Live briefing.

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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