News and Commentary

Fact Checkers Ignore Cori Bush’s Claim That White Supremacists Shot At Ferguson Protestors, Snopes Give ‘Unproven’ Rating
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 03: U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) becomes emotional during a news conference on the eviction moratorium at the Capitol on August 03, 2021 in Washington, DC. News organizations reported that the Biden Administration plans to institute a new eviction moratorium for areas with high levels of COVID-19, days after Bush started camping out on the steps of the Capitol Building to protest the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's original moratorium.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

On Monday, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) claimed that white supremacists fired on Ferguson protesters after former police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in 2014.

“When we marched in Ferguson, white supremacists would hide behind a hill near where Michael Brown Jr. was murdered and shoot at us,” Bush tweeted. “They never faced consequences.”

“If Kyle Rittenhouse gets acquitted, it tells them that even 7 years later they still can get away with it,” she added.

However, as The Daily Wire reported, “Ferguson Police Chief James McCall Jr. and former Ferguson Mayor James Knowles disputed Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush’s claim that white supremacists shot at Ferguson protesters.” 

When asked if he could recall any such incident, McCall Jr. responded, “Not that I’m aware of.”

Moreover, numerous mainstream fact-checkers either ignored or downplayed the claim.

As of Friday morning, CNN’s fact-checker Daniel Dale had not commented on Bush’s claim. Neither had many other fact-checking organizations, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Politifact,, and Lead Stories.

Meanwhile, Snopes did investigate Bush’s claim, but they gave it a more forgiving “Unproven” rating:

Bush’s claim was a remarkable one, and suggested that white supremacists were effectively given license to shoot at Black protesters in Ferguson, and never brought to justice for what would be very serious violent crimes. It was also one that could not be quickly or readily corroborated, which prompted significant skepticism about its veracity. Ferguson Police Chief Frank McCall no doubt added to that skepticism when he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was not aware of any such incident having taken place. 

The congresswoman’s claim was not fabricated out of thin air, but rather related to a specific alleged incident in January 2015. However, we have not yet been able to obtain evidence that supports her core claim, namely that known white supremacists did indeed shoot at protesters, in their capacity as protesters. Moreover, a key figure in the alleged events of that day told Snopes she never saw any individual responsible for the shooting (and therefore could not corroborate the claim that they were white supremacists), and also did not recall having seen Bush at the time. 

In the absence of concrete evidence which clearly establishes the accuracy or inaccuracy of Bush’s claims, we are issuing a rating of “Unproven.” If solid evidence becomes available, we will update this fact check accordingly. 

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a spokesperson for Bush’s campaign appeared to double-down on her claims, despite widespread skepticism.

“While on the frontlines of the Ferguson Uprising, Congresswoman Bush and other activists were shot at by white supremacist vigilantes. The question we need to ask is why white supremacists feel empowered to open-carry rifles, incite violence, and put Black lives at risk across our country,” they said.

Local activist Ohun Ashe also referenced the account of Bush.

“I vividly remember hiding under porches in Canfield as shots were fired at us,” Ashe tweeted. “No one came to help us. Ferguson police would be nearby. We would come from under porches using cars as shields in between gun shots to make it out.”

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