Social media users have been sharing content online that suggests those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were Antifa, not Trump supporters. Many have been using compilations of pictures as purported evidence, but examination of these images shows they do not support this claim. Meanwhile, the FBI has said there is “no indication at this time” that Antifa had played a role in the mob that stormed the Capitol.
While it is impossible for Reuters to verify the identity of each person who took part in Wednesday’s siege, this article covers some of the key images presented in social media posts as false evidence of the rioters being “Antifa undercover”.
Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a stunning bid to overturn his election defeat, battling police in the hallways and delaying the certification of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory for hours (here).
The chaos unfolded after Trump - who before the election refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost - addressed thousands of supporters near the White House and told them to march on the Capitol to express their anger at the voting process. He told his supporters to pressure their elected officials to reject the results, urging them “to fight.” (here)
MAN WITH FUR, HORNS AND PAINTED FACE
Reuters Fact Check previously debunked the claims that a man wearing fur and a hat with horns was a Black Lives Matter or ANTIFA supporter here .
Media outlets including AZ Central and Mashable quickly identified the man as Jake Angeli ( here , here ). According to AZ Central, he has been a “fixture at Arizona right-wing political rallies over the past year." In an interview with the news outlet in May 2020 visible here , Angeli spoke in favor of President Donald Trump and his policies.
In another video visible here , Angeli can be seen praising Trump and “Q,” a reference to the anonymous leader of QAnon, an intertwined series of conspiracy theories whose followers believe that President Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators that includes prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites and “deep state” allies.
Angeli’s own Facebook page examined by Reuters included posts and photographs indicating his support for QAnon and Donald Trump.
He has since been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds (here). The Justice Department identified him as Jacob Anthony Chansley (also known as Jake Angeli).
MAN WITH HAND TATTOO
Reuters Fact Check has previously debunked the claim of a man’s tattoo being proof that he is a part of ANTIFA here .
Posts place an image of protesters inside the Capitol building alongside another image sourced to “phillyantifa.org”.
The Philly Antifa website (phillyantifa.org) does have a page featuring an image of a bearded man who shares certain characteristics with the person seen in the Capitol building. However, this page does not describe the man as an Antifa supporter. Instead, it says the image shows an individual belonging to an entirely different group that Philly Antifa opposes.
Reuters has not identified the person pictured in the Capitol Building. However, a comparison of tattoos on the right hands of both people would indicate that they are not the same person (compare this image from the Antifa site here with this AFP image here ).
MAN IN PELOSI’S OFFICE
Another photo used in social media posts shows a man with his feet on a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office. As the image from Getty began circulating widely on January 6 ( here , here , here ), New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg identified him in a tweet as 60-year-old Richard “Bigo” Barnett of Gravette, Arkansas (here). He also included a video of Barnett (here).
Less than half an hour later, Northwest Arkansas NBC affiliate KNWA-TV reported (here) that its team “immediately recognized the man” from an interview they conducted with Barnett at a “Stop the Steal” rally hosted by the Benton County Republicans in November.
NBC News reported that Barnett was arrested on Friday, January 8 (here). There is no evidence that he has any connection with Antifa.
FUR PELTS AND POLICE SHIELD
Another man shared in Facebook posts is wearing fur pelts and carrying a police shield, identifies himself as Aaron, a resident of Brooklyn, New York. In a YouTube video filmed inside the Capitol, ( here ) the man says he came to “express (his) belief that the election was stolen.”
There is no evidence linking this man to Antifa, and his personal Facebook page, which now appears to have been removed, showed he had reposted content from Donald Trump, Jr. and Senator Ted Cruz, as well as conservative commentators Laura Ingraham and Ben Shapiro.
When asked whether Aaron could be part of Antifa undercover, a source close to the Mostofsky family told Reuters via email: “It’s not true. What he was recorded saying reflects his politics.”
‘NO INDICATION’ OF ANTIFA INVOLVEMENT
There is no credible evidence to support the notion that Antifa backers dressed up as Trump supporters or that they led or spear-headed the rioting.
“We have no indication of that at this time,” said Steven D’Antuono, the FBI Washington Field Office’s assistant director in charge, in response to a question over whether there was any evidence to support allegations that perpetrators of the violence at the U.S. Capitol were “antifa infiltrators” who had disguised themselves as Trump supporters.
Examining the most upvoted chat rooms in an online blog forum popular among Trump supporters on the afternoon of January 8, Reuters found a mixture of narratives being presented among this community. Some said “Patriots”, not Antifa, stormed the buildings while others blamed alleged Antifa infiltrators.
Reuters has debunked other Antifa-related misinformation since Wednesday, including that Antifa did not receive police escort from D.C. Police to the demonstrations (here), an Antifa confession prank (here) and digitally altered news reports (here).
Correction Jan 10. 2020: an earlier version of this article referred to “Nancy Pelosi’s desk”. This phrase has been changed to “a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office”.
False. The images examined in this check purport to show Antifa supporters present at the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S Capitol. However, there is no evidence the individuals in the pictures are linked to the Antifa movement. The FBI has said there is no indication Antifa had played a role in the mob that stormed the Capitol.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.