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An image compilation circulating across social media purported to show bricks placed in Kenosha, Wis., in the days leading up to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial verdict.
The compilation includes seven photos or video screen grabs. Each is more than a year old, and none were taken in Kenosha.
Similar internet rumors about suspicious stacks of bricks spread during the widespread protests that followed the May 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
As the jurors in Kyle Rittenhouse’s closely watched trial deliberated over a verdict, social media users circulated a compilation of old, out-of-context photos that they claimed showed piles and pallets of bricks placed near the courthouse in Kenosha, Wis.
Similar rumors featuring some of the same photos appeared online following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, as social media users alleged that left-wing groups had strategically stashed stacks of bricks in cities like Dallas, San Francisco, Kansas City, Denver and Detroit in preparation for violent protests.
"Bricks in Kenosha? Again?" said the headline on one Nov. 17 blog post on Substack, which spread widely on Facebook and featured the misleading compilation of brick photos.
"A Kenosha officer checked a local alleyway and verified there are ‘bricks everywhere,’" said another Facebook post shared the same day.
The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Rittenhouse, 18, faced five criminal charges related to his fatal shooting of two unarmed men and shooting of a third, armed man, during an August 2020 protest in Kenosha. He was found not guilty on all charges on the jury’s fourth day of deliberations.
But the viral image compilation shared across Facebook, Twitter and other platforms showed only photos and video screen grabs from cities other than Kenosha. The photos and videos were not snapped during the Rittenhouse trial, but were instead taken in 2020, as racial justice protests flared across the nation following Floyd’s murder. And they showed brick piles that were linked to nearby construction, rather than planned violence.
"The report of bricks being dropped off in our community is fake news," said Sgt. David Wright, public information officer for the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, in an email to PolitiFact on Nov. 19. "We have not found anything of the sort here in Kenosha."
The Kenosha Police Department did not respond to a phone call, but the department tweeted that it "is aware of numerous attempts by malicious actors to spread disinformation on various social media platforms. To date, there is no credible threat to public safety."
From left to right and top to bottom, here's what the images in the compilation really show:
The first and fourth images originally circulated in June 2020, reverse image searches show. NBC News traced the photos to a location near a construction site in Dallas, based in part on the Tom Thumb supermarket seen in the background of the photo.
The second and sixth images came from a May 2020 video, BBC News reported at the time. The photos show bricks beside a cobblestone street that pavers were restoring in Fayetteville, N.C. BBC News found video showing the bricks there before Floyd’s death.
The third image was circulating as early as May 2020, BuzzFeed News reported at the time. The photo shows bricks in Fort Myers, Fla., that were set up before any protests and were there temporarily to install a fiber optic cable, NBC2 News reported.
The fifth image came from a May 2020 video uploaded to Instagram, BuzzFeed News reported. The photo shows bricks in Dallas. BuzzFeed News reported that government records and other evidence showed road work happening at the location. A screenshot of the video was included in a May 2020 blog post that PolitiFact rated Mostly False.
The seventh image came from a May 2020 video showing protesters in New York City, BuzzFeed News reported. Citing Google Maps, Snopes reported that the area captured in the video was under construction as early as June 2019.
This illustration shows the image compilation circulating on social media, marked with the photos' proper context.
The "bricks everywhere" quote cited in some social media posts comes from an alleged recording of a Nov. 16 police communication about a specific location in Kenosha, according to the Associated Press,Newsweek and other outlets. The quote was featured in the viral Substack blog post, and also in a story from the Gateway Pundit, a conservative website.
But the audio is unrelated to the photos shown in the image compilation spread widely online.
Facebook posts sharing an image compilation claimed that photos showed "bricks everywhere" in Kenosha during the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
The photos and video screen grabs shown in the compilation are all more than a year old, and none were taken in Kenosha, let alone near the courthouse where Rittenhouse was tried.
We rate these posts False.
Facebook post, Nov. 17, 2021
Tweet, Nov. 17, 2021
The Gateway Pundit,
The Starfire Codes on Substack, "Bricks in Kenosha? Again? Pay No Attention to the Brick Wizard Behind the Curtain....," Nov. 17, 2021
Various reverse image searches, Nov. 19, 2021
Reuters, "Fact Check-‘Stack of bricks’ picture was not captured in Wisconsin in 2021," Nov. 19, 2021
The Associated Press, "Photo shows pile of bricks in Dallas, not Kenosha," Nov. 18, 2021
Newsweek, "Fact Check: Are Photos of Random 'Piles of Bricks' in Kenosha Genuine?," Nov. 18, 2021
Lead Stories, "Fact Check: Pile of Bricks In Kenosha Is NOT Found Suspicious By Police And Photos Are From 970 Miles Away," Nov. 18, 2021
Kenosha Police Department on Twitter, Nov. 17, 2021
BuzzFeed News, "People Say Pallets Of Bricks Are Showing Up Near Protests All Over The US. The Truth Is More Complicated," June 5, 2021
NBC News, "Viral rumors about bricks meant to encourage protest shown to be false," June 4, 2020
Snopes, "Were Pallets of Bricks Strategically Placed at US Protest Sites?" June 4, 2021
BBC News, "George Floyd protests: Misleading footage and conspiracy theories spread online," June 2, 2020
Shayan Sardarizadeh on Twitter, June 2, 2021
Lorand Bodo on Twitter, June 2, 2021
NBC2 News, "Pile of bricks builds fear during downtown Fort Myers protest," June 1, 2021
PolitiFact, "Fact-checking theories about bricks and Black Lives Matter protests," June 3, 2021
Emailed statement from Sgt. David Wright, public information officer for the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, Nov. 19, 2021
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