Stand up for the facts!
Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
• The 9-year-old was not arrested. She was escorted to the police station in a separate car from those who were arrested — a group which included her mother — and cared for by police officers until her mother was released.
• The adults were arrested and charged with trespassing because they would not leave the museum after it closed.
A sensational claim about a child being arrested in New York City because of noncompliance with vaccine mandates catapulted around social media, with more than 600,000 views on Twitter alone. The main problem? It wasn’t true.
One Jan. 22 post on Instagram says the New York City Police Department arrested a 9-year-old "because she didn’t have a vaccine card in the museum." The post includes video footage of a child walking between two female police officers.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The incident began in the afternoon on Jan. 19 at the American Museum of Natural History, when six adults and a child "forcibly entered" the museum after refusing to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, a museum spokesperson told USA Today. New York City requires that anyone age 5 and older present proof of vaccination in order to gain entry to a variety of indoor public activities, including museums.
The group remained in the lobby until the museum’s closing time at 5:30 p.m. EST, then the police were called.
"Our officers were very calm, clear and concise that the building was closed and that these individuals that were refusing to leave had to leave," NYPD Lt. Conor McDonald told USA Today. "They had the opportunity to leave and didn't take it."
The group refused to leave and were arrested and issued trespassing summonses. One of the people who was arrested had two prior arrests for similar trespassing violations, the New York Post reported.
The child was escorted to the police station in a separate car from those who were arrested. While the adults were served their summonses, the child was given cookies and a drink and was cared for by two female officers, news outlets reported.
"Any suggestion that the girl was detained or had enforcement action taken against her couldn’t be further from the truth," a police spokesperson told the Associated Press. "The officers had an obligation to care for her, which they did until the mother qualified for her summons for trespassing."
An Instagram post said the New York City Police Department arrested a 9-year-old "because she didn’t have a vaccine card in the museum."
The child was not arrested. She was escorted to the police station and cared for by officers until a group of adults who had been arrested — including her mother — was released.
The adults were arrested for trespassing because they refused to leave the museum after it closed, not because they failed to show proof of vaccination.
We rate this claim False.
Associated Press, "Posts misrepresent after-hours arrests at New York museum," Jan. 22, 2022
Instagram post, Jan. 22, 2022
NYC Health, "COVID-19 Vaccine," accessed Feb. 15, 2022
New York Post, "Anti-vaxxers arrested after refusing to leave Museum of Natural History," Jan. 21, 2022
Twitter post, Jan. 19, 2022
USA Today, "Fact check: Vaccine mandate protesters in New York City arrested for trespassing, not protest," Jan. 24, 2022
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.