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Photo does not show memorial defaced by Black Lives Matter protesters

June 29, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Photo showing a Vietnam veterans memorial wall marked with graffiti depicts recent vandalism by Black Lives Matter protesters.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This photo of a mural in Los Angeles to honor missing Vietnam veterans shows vandalism that occurred in 2016. That year, the mural was defaced by taggers, including a man named Angel Castro, who was sentenced to four years in prison for the crime, according to reporting by The Associated Press.

THE FACTS: A four-year-old photo of a graffiti-covered Vietnam memorial wall in Los Angeles has circulated widely on social media in recent weeks, with Facebook and Twitter users mistaking it as new.

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“DISGUSTING!” one Facebook user wrote in a recent post. “BLM protesters decided to vandalize a veterans memorial for those who died in the Vietnam War! But yeah … these are normal people who are sane and peaceful. NOT! I hope this pisses you off enough to share it!”

But a reverse-image search shows the image of spray-painted letters on a wall covered with names was taken in 2016, when four vandals defaced the mural with graffiti days before Memorial Day.

Castro was a graffiti artist who went by the nickname “Liter,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The mural has since been restored with a coating to protect against graffiti, according to Donna Lasman, a spokeswoman for the Venice Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.

Lasman said that as of last week, the wall has not experienced any recent vandalism.

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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