Shortly after the deadly U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, social media users shared a number of striking videos. One of those videos purportedly showed a police officer waving in protesters to move past barricades as a way of encouraging them to get closer to the Capitol. He or she was giving supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump the green light to charge toward the building from the east side, the social media posts claimed. However, a second video shot from a different angle provided evidence that debunked this rumor.
There were a number of rumors about actions purportedly taken by individual law enforcement officers on the day of the Capitol riot. For this fact check, we will be concentrating only on this one specific rumor.
The Misleading Video
On Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol riot, TikTok user Josh Helfgott reposted a misleading video with the caption, “A Police Officer WAVED THEM ALL IN!!” It received millions of views and more than 500,000 likes. Helfgott’s specific captioned version of the video was also reshared on Twitter.
The same misleading video was also shared by a TikTok user named @travisjakers with the caption, “Capitol Police Officer Brings Terrorists In.” That TikTok account no longer exists, but the video was downloaded and uploaded again to Twitter with the caption, “Capitol Hill police officer encourages Trump terrorists to go in.”
The Second Video
Months later on Oct. 31, the Hunting Insurrectionists YouTube channel posted a second video that debunked this rumor. A review of the alternate angle that was recorded in the same location outside of the Capitol showed that the officer was waving to his or her fellow officers to fall back. At that point, Trump supporters could be seen as having moved behind the officers’ positions.
The Hunting Insurrectionists YouTube channel hosts a number of other videos that were shot during the Capitol riot. Some of the videos show synced-up clips of the same timeline from multiple sources. The channel serves as a library of content that helps to shed light on the truth of what happened on Jan. 6. It does so by introducing evidence, not half-baked conspiracy theories. The channel is operated by Twitter user @StevieG54099097.
As of July 2022, more than 800 people had been charged with crimes for their participation in the Capitol riot. At the time, the U.S. House Jan. 6 panel was continuing its investigation of the incident with televised hearings.
According to the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department, 140 law enforcement officers were injured on Jan. 6. One officer died the next day and others have since taken their own lives. Some of the protesters who entered the Capitol carried “Blue Lives Matter” and “Thin Blue Line” flags. Such flags are supposed to represent support of police officers.
Trump supporters attempted to storm the Capitol after being egged on by Trump, who consistently pushed the false and baseless claim that U.S. elections were prone to massive voter fraud. That false claim was pushed during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech at the Ellipse in the hours before protesters broke into the Capitol. It had also been spread by the president’s own words in the months and years before the deadly riot. No credible evidence was ever introduced to show that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The Trump supporters who participated in the Capitol riot only briefly delayed Congress from conducting an official electoral count. That electoral count is part of a process that’s outlined in the U.S. Constitution. After the Trump-supporting rioters attempted to stop Congress from following the Constitution, the proceedings resumed later on the same day, where Joe Biden was named as the next president of the United States.
In sum, no, the video of the police officer waving his or her arm did not show that Capitol police or any other local law enforcement personnel had encouraged or invited protesters to run past the barricades on the east side. A second video angle put this false rumor to bed.
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