A fake image circulated on Twitter this week that appeared to show the official Chicago Police Department Twitter account making a statement in solidarity with former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The image, appearing to be a screenshot of a tweet from the CPD’s official account, read, “We are all Derek Chauvin,” over a picture of Chauvin from his trial for the murder of George Floyd. The fake tweet rapidly spread on social media, while tensions were already high in Chicago following the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29.
The viral misinformation has garnered more than 500 comments, 230,000 likes, and 50,000 retweets from one posting and probably far more from other reposts. CPD responded to Coffee or Die Magazine’s inquiry about the onslaught of comments bashing the department with a statement that misinformation “puts our officers and communities at risk by widening the gap in trust that we are working so hard to build, bridge and restore.”
Not only does this synthetic and manipulated image, which is antithetical to our values, reflect the very worst of disinformation on social media, it also puts our officers & communities at risk by widening the gap in trust that we are working so hard to build, bridge & restore. pic.twitter.com/2hK7ovfTM1
— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) April 26, 2021
The department tweeted later that Twitter was refusing to take the fake tweet down.
We reported the tweet and were just notified by Twitter that they reviewed the content, and didn’t find a violation of their policies, so no action will be taken at this time.
— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) April 25, 2021
After George Floyd’s murder at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, nationwide protests and riots unfolded in many major cities, causing upwards of $1 billion in damages.
For most of April, tensions have run high between police and protest movements, as shootings in Chicago, Illinois; Brooklyn Center, Minnesota; Columbus, Ohio; and Elizabeth City, North Carolina, drew national attention.
The Chauvin verdict was widely praised by police leaders and resulted in relatively calm post-verdict protests. LAPD Chief Michel Moore’s response, below, was far more typical of police departments than any pro-Chauvin rhetoric would be, judging by responses to the Chauvin verdict by police departments such as those in New York City and Wichita, Kansas.
Today’s jury’s decision served a small measure of JUSTICE & HOPE our justice system can & must serve all Americans. LA is seeing peaceful demonstrations and LAPD will continue to support our communities however needed.
— Chief Michel Moore (@LAPDChiefMoore) April 21, 2021
“Justice has been served,” New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted after the Chauvin verdict was delivered. “NYPD will be out tonight to ensure that peaceful demonstrations have the ability to proceed safely.”
Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay responded to the verdict as well, tweeting, “Justice prevailed today in the reprehensible actions of the Minneapolis police officer. The Wichita Police Department is committed to continuous improvement in collaboration with our community. We care.”
And Minneapolis’ Chief Medaria Arradondo released a statement following the verdict, saying, “I want to acknowledge and thank the jurors on this case for their immense responsibility and honorable civic duty. The verdict has been read and I respect the process and the decision.”
Social-media-viral misinformation has led to violence against police before. In August, Minneapolis police released video that showed a male murder suspect commit suicide when confronted by police. Before the video was released, claims circulated on social media that MPD officers had shot and killed the man. Peaceful demonstrations in response to George Floyd’s death gave way to looting and riots as the incorrect information spread. Several MPD officers were hurt, with one hospitalized after a rioter hit him in the head with a heavy trash-can lid.