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Fact check: Knife attack in Reading did not happen during the Black Lives Matter protest

A number of posts on social media have misleadingly linked a stabbing attack in Reading on June 20 to a Black Lives Matter protest that took place on the same day.

A general view shows a scene at Forbury Gardens, near where multiple stabbings took place, in Reading, Britain, June 21, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

One Facebook post said the attack happened “during a Black Lives Matter protest”, while another said: “3 people reported dead and many more stabbed in reading town forbury gardens BLM protest.” (here , here).

Several other posts highlighted the geographical proximity between the site of the attack and the earlier protest route. (here , here, here).

Various comments alongside these posts suggest some users understood there to be a link between the two events. One such comment reads: “When are they going to learn this BLM is just another extreme organised event protesting because they don’t get what they want so they kill and riot and fight and stab and injure horses!!!”

Another reads: “Mindless idiots r using all these protests to go berserk and now kill innocent ppl! Disgusting.”

While it is correct that the attack on Saturday June 20 in Reading occurred in a park that was earlier used as a gathering point for protesters (here), it is false to say the events happened simultaneously, and it is misleading to make the link between them.

Thames Valley Police said a number of people were stabbed in Forbury Gardens at around 7pm on Saturday evening, while the protest in the same park had finished three hours earlier.

The force’s Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter added: “I can confirm that this incident is not connected” (here) .

Nieema Hassan, one of the organisers of the earlier demonstration, said in a video “we had all left” by the time of the attack.

She added: “It had nothing to do with the protest. They were very peaceful. We worked with the police liaisons the entire time, and they actually commented on how peaceful and well done and well thought out the protest was today” (here).

VERDICT

Partly false. The protest and the attack happened on the same day and in the same park, but they did not happen simultaneously. The attack happened around three hours after the protest had finished, and police said there was no connection between the protest and the knife attack.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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