Local BLM Protest Detractors spread falsehoods; ”Rumors were not true,” says local law enforcement

Man yelling profanities at demonstrator supporting Black Lives Matter in Whitefish, Mont.

A few local detractors of the “Black Lives Matter” movement sought to sow fear and upset before protests scheduled in Bishop and Mammoth Lakes using social media platforms. The hope was apparently to “mobilize groups” to “counter the protests” and prepare locals to, in some cases, “lock and load.” Even now, days after the protests, a few are still peddling divisive rhetoric and untruths online.

At Mammoth Lakes on Saturday, Lee Thomas is not a thug or a looter or a rioter or antifa. But he is a target of racism. (Photo by Dakota Snider)

Most of the rumor-mongering was on local social media platforms (primarily on Facebook) which is where local authorities first heard of concerns coming from citizens alarmed about what they were reading online. Those promoting the falsehoods often used the term “from a reliable source” to make a convincing argument, yet never provided a credible, verifiable source of their sources of information.

Young demonstrators at BLM Protest in Bishop on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Despite the attempts to derail the protests with false narratives of “domestic terrorists” such as “antifa” coming to the area, there was a successful “Black Lives Matter” protest held in Bishop on Tuesday, June 2, with approximately 130-140 protesters, and yet another very successful BLM Protest March on Saturday, June 6, in Mammoth Lakes with an estimate 600 marchers.

What is antifa exactly? The ADL describes antifa (short for “antifascist”) as a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements, which also include neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Most established civil rights organizations criticize antifa tactics as dangerous and counterproductive.

Sierra Wave went directly to the County Sheriffs and the Chiefs of Police in Bishop and Mammoth Lakes, as well as the state police, i.e. California Highway Patrol and asked:

“To your knowledge, was there ever any credible source of information from a legitimate agency that would have indicated in any way that a busload of “looters, rioters and Antifa members” were taking time out of their busy day down south from looting and destruction, to come all the way up here to disturb the peace at the rally in our towns? Or was this all Facebook nonsense?”

This is what they wrote back, which speaks for itself:

Sheriff Jeff Hollowell, Inyo County

From Sheriff Jeff Hollowell, Inyo County—

The Sheriff’s Office never received any credible information regarding Antifa coming here. The protests were in the City, so we just assisted them in the event manpower was needed. I don’t believe they received any credible threats either.

My intent was to allow the protests to take place, be available to assist the PD if needed, and allow people to exercise their constitutional rights. -JH


Chief Ted Stec, City of Bishop Police Dept.

From Chief of Police Ted Stec, City of Bishop Police—

Before the date of the protest, a person was posting on FB (Facebook) that Antifa was on its way.  He gave updates.  People in Bishop became afraid.  Some businesses prepared to close and did so.

With help of the CHP, we investigated, which seemed to disprove Antifa, agitators, buses, vans, etc. were en route.  We reached out to the person, who said that he was just joking. The posts were edited to reflect that.

Even though we did not have credible information of agitators coming to town, it was still our duty to prepare a deployment plan so we wouldn’t get caught flat-footed on any trouble that might occur.  We do the same for Mule Days, parades, graduations, etc. -TS

Captain Terry Lowther, CHP – Bishop Area

From Captain Terry Lowther, California Highway Patrol, Bishop Area—

As for the bus loads: I had not received any credible information that anyone was traveling to Bishop area to protest.  I worked with other law enforcement agencies that were tracking social media posts claiming people were being bused in.  CHP worked with other CHP areas to attempt to locate the bus sightings described only on social media.

All efforts, including posting units on 395 were unable to substantiate these posts.  Ultimately, we canceled the efforts and remained focused on securing state properties and being available to assist BPD. -TL

Mono County Sheriff-Coroner Ingrid Braun

From Ingrid Braun, Sheriff-Coroner, Mono County—

We had no credible information that any outside groups were coming up to Mammoth. There were rumors, but nothing substantiated. And, as I was at the Mammoth protest, I did not see anyone try to stir anything up. It was very peaceful. -IB


Chief Al Davis, Mammoth Lakes Police Dept.

From Chief of Police Al Davis, Mammoth Lakes Police—

My first comment would be, CHP officers are police officers and have police powers anywhere in the state, not just state highways.  Second, LE agencies in the Eastern Sierra rely on each other for assistance.  We call it mutual aid.  We help each other on a regular basis, daily in most cases.  Usually backing up other officers etc.

Second, how do you determine credible?  I had heard of a FB post as mentioned for the Bishop event.  It appears the reason the event coordinator canceled the event.  Some continued to demonstrate on their own.  Great!

So, when planning events, such as Night of Lights (and many more in Ventura) I always plan for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best.  The primary idea is to keep the public safe, either through presence or if violence does break out, we can respond quickly and quell it.

For our event we had additional resources available nearby.  Fortunately, they were not needed.  Again, great.  We had a good time helping our march make it through town.  It was a tremendous community event, one that was much needed for our Town.

Bottom line, both events went off well.  Additionally, some of our young people learned they can peacefully demonstrate for their beliefs! -AD

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21 Responses to Local BLM Protest Detractors spread falsehoods; ”Rumors were not true,” says local law enforcement

  1. Charles O. Jones June 11, 2020 at 5:44 pm #

    Humor, especially sarcasm, doesn’t always come across as intended online. Whether this was intended as a joke or not, FB has become a cesspool for misinformation. I gave up on it several years ago.

  2. Erich June 10, 2020 at 7:49 pm #

    Would be interested if the facebook posts were made by foreign sourced bots. Disinformation is warfare.

    • David Dennison June 11, 2020 at 10:46 pm #

      Come on,man !!
      A better chance made by locals totally against the protests and the BLM movement. either looking and hoping for trouble,so they’d sit back with a smart phone,taking pictures,and then blaming the protesters if something were to happen.

      • Alopez. June 12, 2020 at 6:21 pm #

        If they break the law.Protesting doesn’t give your right to break the law and loot.

        • David Dennison June 12, 2020 at 7:49 pm #

          The looters,the ones causing those problems weren’t protesters.They were opportunists,taking advantage of a situation….all colors…black,brown,white.
          But just a way for some to blame the protesters and to bring in the National Guard,for church photo-ops as well as breaking up what was peacefully protesting.
          I watched a lot of the evening gatherings on television in all those cities,after the sun went down and when they sometimes turned into the violence and looting..
          The only time I saw the National Guard involved in having to break things up with violence any was that ordered church photo-op the General and some of the Guardsmen later admitted to being a mistake and apologized for doing. .

          • ALopez June 16, 2020 at 8:23 pm #

            You’re 100% sure about that right? I highly doubt that. Do you need to stop watching fake news. My guess is you’ve been indoctrinated. And quit regurgitating what fake news say with the photo op, it’s pathetic.

          • David Dennison June 16, 2020 at 11:38 pm #

            A Lopez
            Are you talking about that photo-op that since,the uniformed Military personal,as well as the National Guard Soldiers that participated in that farce have since openly apologized for being lied to and dragged into that morning ?
            Was that “fake news”,what we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears ?
            “Fake news” ,to me,would be something we’re being told,but we don’t see and hear for ourselves,or being told something we know for a fact is a lie and not the truth.
            THAT is something we all see on a DAILY basis coming out of the white house for going on almost 4 years now,on a variety of topics,that we see and hear directly from the horse’s mouth.
            It’s not “fake news” if we see and hear it ourselves.
            Your defense to that is pathetic.

  3. mark V June 9, 2020 at 9:46 pm #

    If you are responding to a craigslist ad paying for social disturbances or looting, you are in violation of AB5 and should now register with the California legislator Lorena Gonzales down in San Diego.. actually please head down there to speak with her personally

  4. BobK June 9, 2020 at 5:56 pm #

    At least his true name should be revealed.

    • Charles James June 9, 2020 at 7:30 pm #

      We respect “anonymity” even though it comes at a cost. In this particular instance, the poster was engaging in satire, which is not well understood by many readers, several of whom unfortunately, took it seriously. Why anyone would take a Facebook posting (or at least most them) serious is confounding. The Facebook Group page he was posting on is known for its quirky and off the wall humor. Many readers following his post absolutely “got” what he was doing, i.e., “making fun of the absurdity that there was a busload of antifa members, looters and rioters coming to the area.”
      The lesson? Don’t believe everything you read on social media! Fact check…double, and triple check using a credible, reliable source! And keep a sense of humor about you!

    • Low June 10, 2020 at 12:28 am #

      The focus should be on the absurdity of people thinking antifa would even bother coming to a place like this. It’s as bad as when 9/11 happened and people thought the taliban was going to attack. Get a grip on reality folks.

  5. Low June 9, 2020 at 5:51 pm #

    The hilarity of this all is that people actually thought Antifa had any interest in coming to a place like Bishop. The sad part is that it was young people peacefully protesting and local idiots were threatened by this. Those locals should be ashamed of themselves. We should support our youth when they take an interest in a positive cause like fighting racism.

    • Charles James June 9, 2020 at 7:46 pm #

      Tinner, thanks for sharing this. It was informative and interesting…and nothing like what we experience here in our communities! Most of us have no idea what’s happening in Chicago year-round. It’s a very violent city by comparison to others.
      One compelling comment made in the article was: In (Pastor Donovan) Price’s view, collaboration between academics, clergy and neighborhood leaders has been lacking in the fight to tamp down violence.
      “There’s a difference between swelling and growth, and the amount of programs and nonprofits and town halls and all of those things caused a swelling — mainly of the peoples’ heads who were doing them — in thinking that they’ve got this, they’ve solved this, we’ve got a handle on this,” Price said.
      I hope readers will take time to look at the article…and then walk outside, look up at our local mountains and say, “Thank God, I live here!” This is a reality check. Again, thanks for sharing.

  6. Inyo K June 9, 2020 at 4:56 pm #

    Facebook posts are public. I say name and shame the locals agitating for violence.
    “Joking” my left buttcheek.

  7. JaneE June 9, 2020 at 8:58 am #

    I hope the person making the “joke” on Facebook gets a bill from the law enforcement agencies who wasted their time checking it out.

    • Low June 9, 2020 at 5:55 pm #

      If anyone was stupid enough to think antifa had any interest in coming to Bishop, they really need to turn the news off.

  8. David Dennison June 9, 2020 at 8:52 am #

    Almost Native
    I’m thinking soon the poop is going to hit the fan with the ongoing protests,some saying and trying to force the now peaceful protests to end,saying “enough is enough…move on “.
    Some will say it’s “hurting the economy” ,taking away resources,blocking roads…seems some are already thinking that way,kind of hinting at it,but not directly saying it….yet.
    And when and if they do,that’ll open up a whole new can of worms.
    The upcoming political “rallies”held by some(one),gonna be interesting how they’ll be talked and handled,by the protesters and the one doing the chirping at the rallies.
    Politically,we’re going to all be in for an interesting 4 months or so.

  9. Almost Native June 9, 2020 at 6:49 am #

    People have a right to protest and honestly I think if I was of a different race or even in a different city I probably should be out there supporting their peaceful rights to do so. I just hope we all don’t end up feeling forced to turn a blind eye to our forgotten freedoms!

    • Alopez June 12, 2020 at 6:33 pm #

      Don’t forget that our freedoms don’t come FREE! They are fought and protected by men and women with guns. Look at history. America is the last stand for freedom and it doesn’t come free.


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