Are These Photos of Americans Protesting Police Brutality Asking China for Help?

A Kenyan tweep shared these photos (see below) that have been circulating online, on June 1, purporting to show protesters in the United States asking for help from China, during the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality.

The first photo allegedly shows a US protester holding a placard that says ‘CHINA HELP ME BREATHE’. He is standing next to the Chinese flag in front of a burning building with graffiti on the sides calling for justice for George Floyd.

The kneeling protesters in the second photo appear to be holding two Chinese flags, while one of them is holding a white placard saying, ‘HELP US CHINA.’

Background

Since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was filmed pleading for his life as a police officer kneeled on his neck during his arrest in the city of Minneapolis on May 25, mass protests have continued to be witnessed across the US.

There have been growing tensions between the protesters and police, to which the government has responded with the deployment of the National Guard and nighttime curfews.

China was one of the countries that condemned Floyd’s murder. The two countries have been publicly critical of one another for some time now.

Hua Chuning, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, tweeted, ‘I can’t breathe’, a reference to Floyd’s final words. The tweet was directed at Morgan Ortagu, the US State Department Spokesperson.

In 2019, the two countries engaged in an economic trade war, which ended with a USD 200 billion trade deal truce in January this year. Senior officials in both countries have also been openly critical of the other’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some analysts warning of a ‘new cold war’.

Verification

A reverse search of the first image shows that the original image was published in this article by laRegione, a Swiss Italian-language daily newspaper, on May 29, 2020.  The article is titled, ‘Minneapolis, third night of clashes: bonfire outside the police station’. It features a gallery of various photos from that night, among them the one in question.

A screenshot of the original photo from laRegione photo gallery

In the original photo as seen above, there is no Chinese flag and the placard reads, “Liberty or justice till I can’t breathe!!!”

A reverse search of the second image shows that the original photo was published by Reuters on May 30, 2020.

Screenshot from the Reuters website

The photo was shared along the description copied below:

Peaceful demonstrators observe a moment of silence outside the U.S. Bank Stadium during the fourth day of protests after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. May 29, 2020. Picture taken May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi

The original photo does not show any Chinese flags and the supposed placard asking China for help is actually a blank.

Given the evidence above, we can conclude that both photos were doctored to include the Chinese flags and the placards were also manipulated.

Verdict

The photos being shared online are indeed from the ongoing U.S protests against police brutality, but they have been doctored, making the claims, FALSE.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.