Armed militias descended on Gettysburg on July 4 to protect the town from a flag-burning protest — that wound up being an apparent social media hoax, according to reports.
Hundreds of counterprotesters were drawn by a Facebook event Saturday that called for people to show up to the historic battlefield in Pennsylvania for a “peaceful flag burning to resist police,” the Hanover Evening Sun reported.
“Let’s get together and burn flags in protest of thugs and animals in blue,” the Facebook page Left Behind USA wrote, according to the Washington Post.
Rumored to be organized by Antifa, the event was then shared on social media by various alt-right groups including militias, the Oath Keepers and confederate flag advocates.
They called on their members to help battle the Antifa protesters and protect the town.
“If you plan on coming, I would plan on coming full battle-rattle … to be fully, 100 percent prepared to defend yourself and whoever you come with,” Macky Marker, a member of a Delaware militia called First State Pathfinders, said in a YouTube video.
But the Antifa chapter for Central Pennsylvania denied the group had any involvement.
“It’s a right wing hoax like last time (in 2017),” the group wrote in an email, referring to when a hoax circulated about an Antifa plan to desecrate Civil War graves, according to the Evening Sun.
“We are not even remotely involved. Let them give each other COVID. We will be home with our families.”
The Washington Post was unable to verify the person purportedly behind the Left Behind USA account existed through official records.
By Saturday afternoon, the flag-burning event had not materialized at the historic site — but hundreds of bikers, militia members and others gathered outside the Gettysburg Cemetery, the newspaper reported.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a hoax or not,” Christopher Blakeman, 45, told the outlet.
“They made a threat, and if we don’t make our voices heard, it’ll make it seem like it’s okay.”
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