An antifa hoax about a 'peaceful flag burning to resist police' riled up right-wing groups in Gettysburg for no reason

Various alt-right groups including militias, the oath keepers, a scattering of klansmen, and confederate flag advocates, descend upon the Gettysburg battlefield to defend it from a rumored confederate flag burning by anti-fascist groups on July 1, 2017 at the Gettysburg National Park in Gettysburg, PA. The rumor turned out to be false.Andrew Lichtenstein/ Corbis via Getty Images
  • A conspiracy over a potential flag burning and children getting their faces painted by Antifa, short for "anti-fascist," drew counter-protesters to the Gettysburg battlefield days in advance for an event that never materialized.
  • The commotion arose from a mysterious Facebook event called "Left Behind USA," which later went missing, calling for "peaceful flag burning to resist police" in the national park on July 4.
  • A smattering of self-proclaimed oath keepers, Confederate flag bearers, and various right-wing militias descended on Gettysburg days in advance, but nothing has happened so far, and the official Antifa chapter for Central Pennsylvania has denied any involvement.
  • "We are not even remotely involved," the Central PA Antifa chapter wrote in an email. "Let them give each other COVID. We will be home with our families."

A bizarre episode has unfolded at one of the nation's most storied sites, with right-wing groups descending on the Gettysburg battlefield for no sound reason.

The commotion started in late June, with a mysterious Facebook event under the title "Left Behind USA," promising "peaceful flag burning to resist police" at the Gettysburg National Park on July 4.

A few Confederate flag bearers, self-proclaimed oath keepers, and various right-wing militias descended on the park on July 1, anticipating a clash that has yet to materialize.Advertisement

Local news outlets and independent fact checkers have debunked the claim that Antifa — a decentralized, leaderless movement dedicated to combatting right-wing authoritarianism and white supremacy — was planning some sort of flag burning, and even the official Antifa chapter for Central Pennsylvania has denied any involvement.

"We are not even remotely involved," the Central PA Antifa chapter wrote in an email to the local Evening Sun newspaper. "Let them give each other COVID. We will be home with our families."

Local police issued a statement that avoided delving into any of the conspiracy claims.
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"We want to assure those we serve that we are taking all precautions at our disposal to maintain the safety of all residents and visitors to the area as well as the protection of property to include businesses, homes, monuments, churches and other historical treasures located in the greater Gettysburg area," Gettysburg Borough Police Chief Robert Glenny Jr. wrote.

As of the afternoon of July 4th, local news outlets and observers on the ground had yet to report any kind of anti-fascist or flag burning presence on the grounds, but some of the right-wing protesters were still there. In 2017, a similar episode unfolded when a hoax circulated about Civil War graves to be desecrated by Antifa, but nothing of the sort ever ended up happening.Advertisement

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