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VERIFY: Debunking false photos and claims of Antifa at Capitol riot

Social media exploded with photos claiming Antifa instigators were behind the riot at the U.S. Capitol. But most of the photos are provably false.

Misinformation spread across social media like wildfire after a riot began at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.

Many of the claims repeated the idea that it was actually members of Antifa or anarchist groups that stormed the Capitol rather than supporters of President Donald Trump.

The VERIFY team has investigated numerous claims of Antifa involvement, and at this point, none of them have proved credible. On the other hand, there are photos and videos that clearly show Trump supporters involved in all aspects.

Here are some of the most viral claims and facts.

Man in Viking outfit with horns

One of the people who garnered the most attention, likely because of his dress, was a man dressed in a Viking outfit.

And this isn’t the first public event this man has gone to in the same outfit, a history that was used to spread disinformation.

For example, some people said he was actually a member of Antifa and used a photo of him with an anti-police sign in the background as proof. But that photo cropped out the man’s own sign -- a sign that referenced the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon. 

Credit: VERIFY
The left side is a cropped image of Jake Angeli, who dressed as a viking during the riot at the Capitol, that has spread on social media. The right side is the uncropped version of the image, which shows his Q-Anon sign.

In fact, he’s had a history of going to events, protests, and counter-protests to support QAnon and Trump.

An Arizona journalist interviewed him in May of 2020 while at a pro-Trump event. He talked about his support for Trump during the interview. He’s also posted photos of himself with Rudy Giuliani, who he has praised.

Credit: VERIFY
Jake Angeli, who dressed as a viking during the riot at the Capitol, posted on Facebook about meeting Rudy Giuliani just a few months ago.

So claims that this man is actually associated with Antifa movements is false. There is no evidence of that, but there is evidence associating him with QAnon.

RELATED: VERIFY: Has the US Capitol ever been attacked before?

Philly Antifa guys

Another viral photo making the rounds is one that shows two of the people in a photo next to the man in the Viking outfit also in a photo Google Images says comes from a “phillyantifa.org”.

That’s a real website, and the photo is on the website. But it’s clear that those guys in the photo are not there because of an association with Antifa ideologies.

That photo is on an article that seeks to expose one of the people in the picture as a person with ties to neo-Nazi groups. It tells its readers that supporting his business is akin to supporting far-right groups and urges others to spread the word.

So once again, claims that this is evidence the people photographed at the Capitol were associated with Antifa are false. He’s on this Antifa website because the site administrators were looking to publicize his far-right ties.

RELATED: VERIFY: Can the Vice President invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump?

Hand tattoo

Also in that same photo is a man with a hand tattoo some people were confused by. Many questioned what the symbol meant while others quickly jumped to the conclusion that it was some kind of hammer and sickle.

That tattoo is from a video game series called Dishonored and the symbol is called the “Mark of the Outsider” which gives people in the game’s universe access to supernatural abilities.

Screenshots of the game show that the symbol is placed upon the player character’s hand.

Credit: Arkane Studios
This is the symbol as it appears in the video game Dishonored 2 as a hand tattoo.

Poster

One of the most viral claims shows a blurry “poster” titled “Antifa Comrades!”

It says “disguise yourselves as patriots/Trump supporters,” and has been shared as proof that Antifa members were doing this on Wednesday. 

Credit: VERIFY
This is a screenshot of the poster posted to social media.

But reverse image searches show this image is actually more than two months old. It originated on November 3, after Election Day. And the date on the poster even says November 4.

And nothing happened on that date, proving the poster to be fake.

This poster was originally a hoax from two months ago. 

BOTTOM LINE

While we can't VERIFY the ideologies and connections of every person who participated in the riot, we can prove that much of the evidence used to prove people there were Antifa instigators is false.

The crowd went to the U.S. Capitol after listening to a speech from President Donald Trump and was largely donned in pro-Trump paraphernalia.

Additionally, many of the people who talked about their participation online, posted photos and streamed videos have a history of posting pro-Trump or right-wing content online.

And several of those people even hold public office, have held public office, or tried to hold public office in campaigns that were pro-Trump. You can learn more about that in the second half of the video attached to the top of the article.

Final note: The Associated Press reports Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters Friday there’s “no indication” at this time that Antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in Wednesday’s riot. 

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