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Left-wing protesters didn’t ‘storm’ Georgia Capitol

March 2, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows left-wing protesters storming Georgia’s Capitol building in Atlanta or engaging in an insurrection over a bill that would require photo ID for absentee voting.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The individuals in the video entered the Capitol building lawfully and dispersed peacefully, with no violence or arrests, according to Franka Young, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Safety. Associated Press reporting confirms that the protest, which took place on Friday, did not amount to a storming of the Capitol or an insurrection.

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THE FACTS: A video clip of a protest at Georgia’s state Capitol on Friday circulated widely on social media this week, often with claims exaggerating what happened.

The 45-second clip showed a Georgia state trooper using a bullhorn to instruct protesters to disperse, citing a state law that allows arrests for disruptive protests at the Capitol. As the officer was speaking, Democratic Georgia Rep. Park Cannon approached him and put her ear up to the bullhorn, blocking it. Another officer moved her away by the arm, telling her to “step aside.” Cannon then engaged in an argument with the officers.

Social media users on Monday likened the protest in the video to the violent siege of the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, which resulted in five deaths and hundreds of arrests.

“Leftists STORM Georgia Capitol In Response to ID Required for Absentee Ballots,” conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza wrote in a headline alongside the video, which was viewed more than 69,000 times on the video-sharing website Rumble.

Others on Twitter called the protest in the video an “insurrection” in tweets shared thousands of times.

However, the Georgia Department of Public Safety confirmed to the AP that the protesters entered the state Capitol lawfully and remained peaceful, unlike the rioters in the violent Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington.

“No one was arrested,” Young wrote. “The protesters were asked to disperse and they left peacefully on their own.”

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According to AP reporting, the Friday protest began after Democrats were not given a chance to speak on the House floor against House Bill 531, which would make multiple changes to restrict voting, including requiring photo ID to cast absentee ballots.

During a lunch break, protesters gathered in the atrium of the Capitol. When Cannon put her ear up to a state trooper’s bullhorn, another trooper asked her to step aside. Cannon demanded a public apology from the officer and began shouting complaints that quickly evolved into an attack on the voting bills.

Cannon then sat down and a group of more than a dozen Democrats, mostly House members, joined her. They remained on the steps for two hours, eating lunch, taking pictures, sending social media messages and leaving an aisle open for traffic.

On Monday, the Georgia House passed House Bill 531, sending it to the Senate for further debate. Civil rights groups gathered at the Capitol to protest.

As with Friday’s protest, those who gathered on Monday entered the Capitol lawfully and were nonviolent, Young said.

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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