The White House posted and then deleted a tweet on Wednesday that falsely suggested a synagogue’s rock-filled anti-terrorism barrier had been placed on the street by domestic terrorists.
The tweet featured a compilation of video clips from around the country in which people expressed suspicion of the presence of bricks or other objects on the streets. The tweet claimed that “Antifa and professional anarchists are invading our communities, staging bricks and weapons to instigate violence. These are acts of domestic terror.”
One of the video clips showed enclosures filled with rocks on a street in Los Angeles. An unidentified man said the situation didn’t “look right” to him.
But the rock enclosures were there for a good reason. They had been erected outside the Chabad of Sherman Oaks to protect the Jewish facility from potential attacks.
“To all our concerned neighbors and friends, there were false pictures and videos going around today, claiming some bricks or rocks were placed at our center. Here is the truth: THESE ARE SECURITY BARRIERS and have been here for almost a year!” the synagogue said in a Facebook post on Monday.
The post went on to say that the rocks had been temporarily removed to alleviate concerns that the enclosures could be vandalized and the rocks used by rioters.
The White House deleted the tweet, without explanation or apology, after journalists including Tablet Magazine’s Yair Rosenberg and CNN’s Gabe Ramirez – who lives in the neighborhood – pointed out that it showed a synagogue security barrier.
Chabad of Sherman Oaks declined to comment on the White House repeating the false assertion. The White House, which has about 23 million Twitter followers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
President Donald Trump has tried to emphasize the supposed role of anarchists and Antifa, a loose collection of anti-fascists, in violence surrounding the largely peaceful nationwide protests that have followed the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. It is not clear how big a role any particular group has played in the protests or the violence.
By the time the White House posted the tweet on Wednesday, the claim that there was something nefarious about the rocks outside the synagogue had already been debunked by The Associated Press, BuzzFeed News and others.
BuzzFeed journalist Craig Silverman said he had also previously debunked clips included in the White House video from New York and from Fayetteville, North Carolina. CNN did not get a chance to independently check all of the clips before the video was deleted.