A multiracial Washington family on a camping trip was harassed and confronted by locals who accused them of being political activists with "antifa" and then trapped them at their remote campsite, authorities said.The incident, under criminal investigation by the Clallam County Sheriff's Office, appears to be part of a widespread, false campaign across the country claiming that armed minorities are descending on suburban communities to sow violence and loot.
The disturbing social media posts are fake, authorities say, and often claim antifa activists are being bused in from outside areas.
In Idaho, local authorities used their social media sites to debunk posts from militia groups saying antifa groups were being flown in from Seattle.
"The Payette County Sheriff’s Office has been monitoring social media posts that have stated FALSE information," the department said this week on Facebook. "The original post (with false information) states:
"'Family and friends in Idaho. We were told by our Congressman that Antifa has sent a plane load of their people into Boise and three bus loads from Seattle into the rural areas. The sheriff in Payette has already spotted some of them. We were warned to lock our doors and our guns. We think they will stay in the larger communities but it is best to be prepared.'"
None of that is true, the department said.
"The Payette County Sheriff’s Office has not had contact with and has not verified that Antifa is in Payette County. The Payette County Sheriff’s Office has not given any specific warnings to our citizens about Antifa or other organizations. The information in this social media post is not accurate," the post concluded.
In South Dakota, Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said investigators found no evidence that buses of outside agitators were being sent into the city, after "false flag" rumors spread on social media.
A fake Twitter account claiming to represent a national antifa group that contained violent rhetoric actually was linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, according to a Twitter spokesperson.
The account violated the company's platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts, and was suspended, the spokesperson said.
The fake account appeared as protesters marched in states across the country over the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. One of the recent fake tweets alleging to be from "@ANTIFA_US" said, “Tonight’s the night, Comrades,” with a brown raised fist emoji. "Tonight we say 'F*** The City' and we move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours."
In Washington, Clallam County Sheriff's deputies are trying to identify residents who confronted the multiracial family, which included a man, his wife and their 16-year-old daughter," who stopped in the town of Forks to buy camping equipment.
The Spokane family, traveling in a converted school bus, were met by several people who asked if they were from "Antifa," authorities said.
The family said they weren't affiliated with any such group and were simply on a camping trip.
They were eventually able to leave the parking lot and headed for an isolated camping spot off a logging road about five miles away, said Sgt. Shaun Minks.
The family apparently was followed, and called 911 Wednesday night after hearing gunshots and chainsaws, Minks said. They packed up and tried to leave, but trees had been cut down and were blocking the logging road, Minks said.
A group of high school students in the area came to their aid and used chainsaws to break up the trees, and helped clear a path for the family to drive out.
Minks said the family, who have not been identified, gave statements to deputies and left the area.