Social media posts incorrectly claim that Minneapolis police license plates “dont say POLICE,” and that proves the death of George Floyd was a planned event. Actually, many police vehicles in Minneapolis have that license plate.
The death of George Floyd — which came after a police officer kneeled on his neck, an incident that was captured on cellphone video — has sparked strong reactions. In some corners of the internet, those reactions have become conspiracy theories.
One such conspiracy theory claims that the incident was a “false flag,” which means that it was a planned event intended to hide the identity of the group that actually carried it out. The primary piece of evidence for this theory is that the police vehicle shown in the video of actions that led up to Floyd’s death has a license plate that reads, “POLICE.”
But in Minneapolis, they do.
Under Minnesota state law, police vehicles that are clearly marked are not required to display numbered license plates.
The claim about the plates appears to have originated on a Twitter account that refers in its bio to QAnon, a wide-ranging conspiracy theory that holds President Donald Trump as a champion against the so-called “deep state.”
That account deleted the original tweet, explaining, “Im taking this down because or the Plate theory being inacurate and the rest of the statementa not being answered.”
But that hasn’t stopped others from circulating a screenshot of the original tweet as a meme on Facebook, where it’s been shared with comments such as, “Indeed. An assassination staged as police brutality in order to destroy law and order, frame the Police Department, and ‘become ungovernable’ in order to usher in Anarchy and FORCE a Civil War… #FalseFlag.”
Not only that, but this bogus claim that has been retracted by the original poster is also getting wrapped up with other similarly flawed conspiracy theories about Floyd’s death.
These “false flag” claims often circulate online following national tragedies. We debunked similar claims after James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd demonstrating in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing Heather Heyer, and after Stephen Craig Paddock opened fire on more than 22,000 people attending an outdoor concert in Las Vegas.
City of Minneapolis. Press release. “City leaders plead for peace, acknowledge deep pain in community following death of George Floyd.” 28 May 2020.
LaFrance, Adrienne. The Atlantic. “The Prophecies of Q — American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase.” 14 May 2020.
Minneapolis Police Department. Facebook page. Accessed 28 May 2020.
Schaedel, Sydney. FactCheck.org. “Charlottesville Driver a Clinton Supporter?” 22 Aug 2017.
Hale Spencer, Saranac. FactCheck.org. “No Evidence Linking Vegas Shooter to Antifa.” 5 Oct 2017.