Fact Check

70% of Arrested Charlotte Protesters Are Out-of-State Criminals

An erroneous report about Charlotte protesters brought to that city from other states stemmed from one police spokesman's speculative estimate.

Published Sep 26, 2016

70 per cent of the persons arrested during protests in Charlotte had out-of-state IDs.

The controversial fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina on 20 September 2016 has once again set off a national debate about the treatment of minorities by the police and has sparked widespread outrage, touching off numerous protests and demonstrations in the streets of Charlotte.

And once again, the Charlotte protests have touched off rumors that such demonstrations are primarily composed of "outside agitators" and "criminals" hailing from other areas (with the implication that the bulk of the protesters were brought to Charlotte from other states by a furtively-run group and/or were paid to take part in demonstrations there):

But it wasn't true, as widely reported, that 70% of the protesters arrested in Charlotte had out-of-state IDs. That claim was based on a remark made by Todd Walther, the spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, during an interview with CNN host Erin Burnett:

I’m not saying all the people, but we’ve got the instigators that are coming in from the outside. They were coming in on buses from out of state. If you go back and look at some of the arrests that were made last night. I can about say probably 70 percent of those had out-of-state IDs. They’re not coming from Charlotte.

However, Walther acknowledged to the Charlotte Observer that he hadn't actually reviewed police arrest reports (either before or after his CNN interview) and that his comment was based on pure conjecture, saying: "I didn’t quote facts. It’s speculation. That’s all it was.”

Moreover, the Observer noted, their review of arrests made in connection with the Charlotte protests up to that time found that nearly 80% of the arrestees were in fact Charlotte residents, and most of the rest were from other parts of North Carolina:

Of the 43 people arrested late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, 34 — or 79 percent — live in Charlotte, the Observer found. Most of the others live elsewhere in North Carolina, including Albemarle, Gastonia and Greensboro. Three others were arrested Thursday night; of those, two were from Charlotte and the third had not been identified by midafternoon Friday.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags