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Black teen’s death in Chicago remains an open investigation

October 2, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Demetrius Griffin Jr., a Black teenager in Chicago, was killed in 2016 by “other Black kids” who burned him to death because he “refused to join their gang.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Griffin’s death remains an open investigation, according to Chicago police. There are no suspects at this time.

THE FACTS: A post shared by the popular Facebook page Capitalism on Thursday featured a photo of the Black teenager who died in Chicago in 2016 — but misrepresented the circumstances of his death.

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“My name is Demetrius Griffin Jr.,” the post reads. “In 2016 I was placed in a barrel by other Black kids in Chicago and burned to death because I refused to join their gang… There was no march or protest for me. But when you’re Black and murdered by other Blacks, your life doesn’t matter.”

Along with the text, the post featured an image of a teenage boy on a sidewalk looking straight at the camera. It was shared more than a thousand times, and received more than 71,000 views.

It’s true that the photo shows Griffin, who was 15 when he died. It’s also true that Griffin’s body was found burning in an alley on the West Side of Chicago, according to reporting by The Associated Press.

However, there is no evidence the post is accurate in its description of who killed Griffin and why. The teen’s death remains an open investigation, Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Tannehill told the AP.

“Detectives are still investigating, so no suspects at this time,” she said.

The post also falsely claims no one marched or protested for Griffin. In fact, his name was mentioned at a 2018 rally intended to draw attention to violence, corruption and a lack of economic investment in Chicago’s Black communities. At least one attendee at that rally told the AP she was marching for Griffin.

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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