A rumor floated onto Gaston County Antifa’s Facebook page claiming that members “from at least 10 states” planned to meet in front of a local Gander Outdoors store in Gastonia, North Carolina. Then, others heard that Antifa members intended to light the huge American flag, which flies in front of the store, on fire. This is what happened next.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, dozens of people gathered at the store, some of them were members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a nonprofit organization. An individual must be a male descendant of a Confederate veteran to be eligible to join.
Unfortunately, these people were mounting a “counter-protest against an Antifa rally that didn’t exist.” Terry Pennington said he had heard a rumor that indicated Antifa people planned to set the flag on fire:
‘They ain’t here because they’re still in their momma’s basement.’
The Antifa movement is a combination of left-wing and antifascist groups. It uses direct action, including harassing people they deem to be right-wing extremists and racists.
The Gaston Antifa post said the purpose of its upcoming rally was to begin a petition that would:
‘(Remove) the Nazi statue at the Gaston County Courthouse and recruiting new members.’
There was just one flaw in the post: there is no Nazi statue at the courthouse. Instead, there is a Confederate statue located there. Even so, some of the people who posted responses on the Gaston County Antifa page made threats of violence.
As a result of the rumor, Pennington traveled from Locust, North Carolina to Gastonia. Even he suspected that the Gaston County Antifa post was “most likely a prank:”
‘But you see the true supporters. We don’t care if it’s a prank. We’re going to show up because what’s going to happen is they’re going to call this and then we ain’t going to show up and then they’re going to really burn down an American flag and it’s going to cause someone to seriously have problems.’
Cleveland County Sheriff Major Joel Shores had earlier posted on Facebook a statement that said there was no evidence such a group really existed locally:
‘We believe at this time there is no such group in Gaston County. Unfortunately, social media can be a platform for one person to cause concerns and try to entice violence and hate.’
Pennington said some of his group would remain at Gander Outdoors “until we know Antifa ain’t coming.’
The Antifa Facebook page showed some people in the woods. That same photo had been used by the Colorado Antifa Facebook page. The page also said its members were “training and preparing” from “the gym to the gun range.” It included a video of a masked person saying:
‘(The NRA is) basically a terrorist organization.’
Then, it added a bogus claim that the Civil War was against “the Britons.”
People were still outside of the store halfway through the day. However, the police said no problems had been reported. Gastonia officer B. Syboutlan said that providing a police presence was “just precaution, pretty much.”
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.