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Tour buses were transporting Toronto Raptors, not protesters

July 21, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Black tour buses wrapped with “Black Lives Matter” were seen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, bringing in Black Lives Matter and antifa rioters for protests.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photos being shared show tour buses that have not moved from the bus yard in Fort Lauderdale since they were wrapped for the Toronto Raptors basketball team on July 9.

THE FACTS: Social media users are misrepresenting photos online to say they show that Black Lives Matter protesters and activists associated with antifa -- an umbrella term for anti-fascists -- are being bused into cities for protests.

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At a truck stop in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. Notice the number and immense cost of the custom buses bringing in Black Lives Matter and Antifa Rioters. This is huge money and organization. @realDonaldTrump. This should be attacked by going after those with the deep pockets,” one post on Twitter with more than 7,000 retweets said.

The photo shows a bus yard where tour buses wrapped with the “Black Lives Matter” slogan are parked. The buses were wrapped as part of a Toronto Raptors effort to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The buses were wrapped for the NBA team for only a day and removed on July 10, when they were parked in the Fort Lauderdale bus yard. They have not moved since.

A spokesperson for the Toronto Raptors confirmed to The Associated Press that the buses were wrapped for the team and were provided by a bus company that transported the team in Florida from their training camp in Naples to the NBA bubble in Orlando, where the league constructed a social bubble to resume the NBA season and protect 22 teams from COVID-19. The bus company that transported the team confirmed to the AP that the buses have been out of service since they were used by the basketball team.

The posts misrepresenting the photos online coincided with Monday’s “Strike for Black Lives,” where essential workers picketed during their lunch breaks and held moments of silence in support of Black Lives Matter.

Posts making the false claims were first shared Monday on Twitter, where they received thousands of retweets before also being widely shared to Facebook on Tuesday.

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“These Black Lives Matter custom buses are used to bus in rioters and looters,” one tweet with more than 1,000 likes said Monday.

The Toronto Raptors posted photos of the buses with the “Black Lives Matter” wrapper to Twitter on July 9.

“Silence is not an option,” the tweet showing photos of the buses said.

The team also included the black tour buses with the “Black Lives Matter” slogan in an Instagram video where it showed the buses rolling in as teammates boarded them in T-shirts that also said “Black Lives Matter.”

The font of the “Back Lives Matter” wrapper used on the tour buses shown in the videos and photos posted by the Toronto Raptors match the ones of the buses being misrepresented in the photos online.

It’s not the first time posts have shared photos to falsely suggest that people are being bused in to protests. In June, The Associated Press debunked a manipulated photo where the words “Soros Riot Dance Squad″ were added to photos of buses as proof that protesters were being bused in and billionaire philanthropist George Soros was supporting them.

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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