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Video shows Portland homeless camps, not antifa ‘war encampment’

September 4, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video featuring dozens of blue tents across two parking lots shows an encampment for antifa agitators in Portland, Oregon.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The two adjacent lots shown in the video are temporary homeless camps for unhoused Portland residents, according to two nonprofits that helped install them. The campsites were set up in April, predating racial justice protests that have persisted nightly in Portland since late May.

THE FACTS: A video posted to YouTube on Aug. 31 claims to expose a sprawling, coordinated headquarters for violent anarchists in Portland — but it actually shows temporary homeless shelters set up by nonprofit organizations in the city.

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In the video viewed more than 160,000 times on YouTube, the videographer pans the camera to show two tent-filled lots near Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge.

A voice then claims without evidence that they are camps for activists who identify with antifa, an umbrella term that is short for anti-fascist and refers to a range of far-left militant groups that oppose neo-Nazis and white supremacists at protests.

“I think I discovered where such a large crowd of agitators could house themselves and stage themselves for such a large period of time and still be able to be so close to the center of action every single night,” the voice says. “This is a war encampment.”

Protests in Portland have persisted for more than three months since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. The voice in the video claims the camp has helped fuel those protests, saying, “This is where they house the rioters.”

The video also makes several other unfounded claims, including that people staying in the camps have been flown out to recent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

One version of the video posted to Twitter on Sept. 3 was viewed over 250,000 times and shared by more than a thousand Twitter users. But its claims are inaccurate.

The campsites were a joint effort between several local nonprofits “for unhoused people to shelter in place while meeting hygiene needs” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Street Roots, a partner in the project.

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“This is NOT a war encampment,” wrote Katrina Holland, executive director of the nonprofit JOIN, which holds the site agreement for the campsites, in an email to The Associated Press. “It is a temporary COVID-19 shelter option for up to 145 individuals who are houseless.”

Several local news reports confirm that the shelters have been set up since April — more than a month before the recent unrest began in Portland.

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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