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What I Learned – No Evidence So Far Of Coordinated Campaign To Place Pallets Of Bricks At Nationwide Police Brutality Protests

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A wave of social media posts and images have claimed that pallets of bricks have been appearing near the locations of protests in cities all over the United States. This sparked rampant speculation that the bricks are part of a coordinated effort to incite violence as a way to entrap protesters and instigate chaos.

BuzzFeed News has documented claims made about bricks in Boston, Dallas, Kansas City, San Francisco, and elsewhere. In several cases, bricks were placed long before protests began in the US, or they are clearly linked to ongoing construction. As of now, there’s no evidence to support claims of coordinated brick placements at protests. However, now that the claims have spread across social media, it’s possible that people could be inspired to start collecting and placing bricks.

Here’s a breakdown of claims about bricks appearing in different locations and the information available as of now. This post will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

If you have information to share, please email craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com or message @craigsilverman on Twitter.

1. Multiple tweets claimed that pallets of bricks had been “planted” in Frisco, Texas, ahead of protests in the city. In each case, police and local crews said they were part of ongoing construction.

The bricks shown above were being used to fix the sidewalk under the highway. They were soon covered up by the crews working on the project.

They covered the bricks. There is construction near. I had to fact check for you all 💗

09:03 PM – 01 Jun 2020

In another case, bricks were discovered not far from where a protest was due to take place on June 1. A spokesperson for the Frisco Police Department told the Associated Press the bricks were for a local homeowners association project.

“At this point, our department has no intelligence to suggest that any bricks have been placed on this specific route in advance of this protest for violent purposes,” Sgt. Evan Mattei told AP.

2. These stacks of “random-ass bricks” were the focus of a video shot in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The man who narrated it claimed there wasn’t any construction in the area. He questioned why the bricks were placed in the middle of a protest, but there’s a good explanation.

BBC News investigated and found a YouTube video showing that the bricks had been in that location since at least May 24, the day before George Floyd was killed. The BBC also found a city document that indicated the area was scheduled for construction.

A YouTube video from 24 May – found by @BenDoBrown – shows phase two of reopening the city after the coronavirus lockdown. The same pile of bricks are visible in the bottom right. A local resident also confirmed bricks have been in that area for “months” for construction work

07:06 PM – 02 Jun 2020

3. A YouTube video with “Antifa Terrorism” in the title claimed to show “crates of bricks” along a street in Sherman Oaks, California. “That don’t look right to me,” says the man behind the camera. These are in fact security barriers installed to protect a Jewish community building.

“To all our concerned neighbors and friends, there were false pictures and videos going around today, claiming some bricks or rocks were placed at our center,” wrote Chabad of Sherman Oaks on Facebook. “Here is the truth: THESE ARE SECURITY BARRIERS and have been here for almost a year!”

The organization said it temporarily removed the stones as a precaution.

4. This video shows two law enforcement officers unloading bricks from the back of their vehicle. The video’s narration suggests they’re doing this for nefarious reasons, likely related to the protests. That’s apparently not the case.

The officers are members of the Northeastern University Police Department in Boston, which patrols the campus. After the video went viral, the NUPD issued a series of tweets to explain that its officers had collected the bricks from a damaged sidewalk nearby and brought them to the headquarters.

They were in the process of unloading the bricks when the video was filmed, according to the NUPD.

The user who made the video, @chill_lesh, later deleted it and said she was “not interested in spreading misinformation.”

5. Multiple viral social media posts claimed that a pallet of bricks in Dallas was part of a government scheme to entrap protesters. The placement of these bricks was investigated by NBC News, and there is no evidence of government involvement.

Loránd Bodó, an NBC News producer, was able to pinpoint the exact location of the bricks in Dallas. He found a Google Street View image that showed they have been there since at least February.

Google Maps Street view from February 2020 offers an interesting insight. It shows the piles of bricks at the same location and when moving further down the street, there’s an actual construction site.

H/T @rickfable: https://t.co/OhOI1QkThm

12:51 PM – 02 Jun 2020

In spite of those details, the Dallas bricks are now being woven into the sprawling QAnon conspiracy theory. Some QAnon followers have baselessly claimed the bricks are from a company owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, and that they have ties to Bill Gates and other powerful figures.

6. A Twitter user tagged San Francisco Mayor London Breed to say that “mysterious brick placing is happening in our city in an attempt to escalate our protests” — but the police say the bricks are there for a construction project.

The San Francisco Police Department said it looked into why the bricks were there and is getting the contractor to remove them.

@lextayham @LondonBreed We have confirmed these pallets are affiliated with a construction site and have contacted the contractor to have them removed. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

04:25 AM – 02 Jun 2020

7. This video shows protesters coming upon a cache of bricks in New York City on May 31. However, the bricks were protected by barriers, and there appears to be construction scaffolding in the background.

“Yo, we got bricks. We got bricks!”—#Rioters in Manhattan chanced upon a cache in the street equipped with bricks and a shovel at 10:01 p.m. on Second Ave between St. Marks Pl. and Seventh St.

04:41 AM – 31 May 2020

8. The Kansas City Police Department tweeted on May 31 that it found “stashes of bricks and rocks” that could be used “during a riot.” It did not share a photo of its discovery nor say how many it found.

We have learned of & discovered stashes of bricks and rocks in & around the Plaza and Westport to be used during a riot. If you see anything like this, you can text 911 and let us know so we can remove them. This keeps everyone safe and allows your voice to continue to be heard.

08:55 PM – 31 May 2020

9. Similarly, the city of Houston’s emergency information service said on on June 2 that the Public Works Department “removed several piles of bricks and rocks from several locations.” It did not release any other details.

AlertHouston: HPW has removed several piles of bricks and rocks from several locations in Houston this afternoon. Please call 311 (or HPD’s non-emergency line, 713.884.3131), to report any suspicious activity or if you see someone leaving these items in th https://t.co/Ccqex1DY0Q

07:33 PM – 02 Jun 2020

10. A pile of bricks seen near the courthouse in Fort Myers, Florida set off speculation they had been planted for protestors. But city officials told the local NBC station that the bricks were “temporarily stored to install a fiber optic cable.”

A man who works in the area confirmed he’d seen the bricks long before the protests started.

“The bricks have been here for a long time,” said Carlos Cavenago. “I first noticed them when they started repairing them along the sidewalk, and it’s a sad coincidence that there is rioting and people noticed the pile of bricks but I’ve been seeing them for a while.”

11. Twitter users shared images and videos of a palet of bricks located several blocks away from a protest in Orlando. But the photos and video show they were placed at a construction site, and not along the protest route.

An image from the video shows the bricks are located next to an apartment/condo construction site. This video still shows a digger in the background. Additional construction equipment and materials are also visible in the video.

12. Residents in Wilmington, Delaware became alarmed when they spotted two palettes of bricks in front of the Jalisco Mexican Grocery, a beloved local taco and food shop. Some even called the police. But Eva Lopez, the owner of Jalisco, told BuzzFeed News the bricks belonged to her.

Lopez said a customer who builds patios offered to give her some extra bricks. He dropped them off on Tuesday, and she took most of them to her house. A couple of pallets remained on the sidewalk. On Tuesday, the police visited her business to ask about them.

“The police came by and I explained the story. They asked if they could drive to my house to confirm the bricks were there,” she said. “I think people keep asking me about the bricks as well because of the protests. People think I left them behind so we could throw them later, but no this was all just a big misunderstanding.”

Lopez said she plans to build a patio with the bricks.

Additional reporting by Adolfo Flores.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.



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