Massachusetts Pastor And Rapper Ice Cube Tweet Photo Misidentifying ‘Cop’ Wearing ‘Make Whites Great Again’ Hat
A picture shows a man holding a cellphone in front of a twitter logo in Ankara, Turkey on March 16, 2017.
Photo by Gokhan Balci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Bishop Talbert Swan, senior pastor of the Spring of Hope Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts, sent out a tweet about the Minneapolis police officer who is alleged to have choked an unarmed African American man, George Floyd, on Monday after pinning him to the ground with his knee.

Floyd “was declared dead at a nearby hospital shortly afterwards,” according to CNN.

The tweet contained a side-by-side featuring two photos – a still image from the bystander video of the incident in question, and another of a man allegedly wearing a “Make Whites Great Again” hat.

The tweet reads: “Here is Derek Chauvin, the racist cop who kept his knee on #GeorgeFloyd’s neck, cut off his air passage and murdered him, wearing a ‘Make Whites Great Again’ hat, a clear sign that this piece of excrement should’ve been taken off the streets a long time ago. #JusticeFor Floyd.”

The tweet has approximately 39,400 “likes” and has been retweeted more than 22,400 times as of publication.

Here’s the issue – as many have now pointed out on social media, the man in the second photo isn’t Derek Chauvin.

Journalist Andy Ngo tweeted: “How many people have you wrongly identified to your audience of tens of thousands? @Twitter needs to fact check verified users who spread disinformation.”

Ngo’s Tweet elicited a response from Swan, who wrote in two tweets:

You’re calling on @Twitter to fact check verified users who spread disinformation, when you trumptrash bigots eat up all of the lies, innuendo, conspiracy theories, and disinformation that he rage tweets incessantly on a daily basis? You can’t be serious.

Your mango messiah just threatened to withhold monies from Michigan and other states based on a lie. He lied on the world health organization. He lied about his response to the pandemic. He lies on the media, politicians, every day citizens. He’s a disinformation machine.

Pollster and political consultant Frank Luntz also replied to Swan’s tweet, identifying the man in the other photo as Jonathan Lee Riches: “That’s not the same guy. Don’t complain about Trump spreading lies if you’re going to do the same thing.”

HuffPost’s Luke O’Brien further detailed Riches’ identity and his alleged history of trolling in a series of tweets:

In a subsequent tweet, O’Brien stated that Riches had reached out to him, and claimed that the writing on his hat had been “photoshopped.” However, O’Brien later tweeted another photo in which Riches is wearing a seemingly identical hat.

The misidentification has continued, with rapper and actor Ice Cube also tweeting out the side-by-side image:

The tweet has over 88,000 “likes” and has been retweeted more than 33,900 times. Swan also retweeted Ice Cube’s tweet.

Fact-checking website Snopes has even jumped into the fray, labeling the photo as “miscaptioned.”

As for Riches’ claim that the photo was doctored, Snopes writes: “We examined the photograph and see no obvious signs of digital editing. Riches also could not produce the original, undoctored photograph.”

Despite the calls to delete the tweets, neither Swan nor Ice Cube have pulled them down as of publication.

This isn’t Swan’s first rodeo. According to MassLive, Swan was reportedly banned from Twitter in 2018, but later reinstated.

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