Fact Check

Did Protesters Burn a Minnesota County's Flag and Raise an Anti-Fascist One at a Local Jail?

Right-wing web sites accurately describe the basic facts of a real incident which lasted for around 30 minutes.

Published Aug 18, 2017

 (Leah Soule/Twitter)
Image Via Leah Soule/Twitter
On 14 August 2017, protesters removed and destroyed the county flag from the Hennepin County, Minnesota jail, and temporarily replaced it with an Antifa flag.

On 15 August 2017, the conservative Gateway Pundit web site reported that a group of protesters outside the Hennepin County jail in Minneapolis, Minnesota, had removed the county's flag and erected one of their own - bearing the insignia of the anti-fascist "antifa" movement.

Far left agitators marched through the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday night in a solidarity protest with Charlottesville, Virginia. The far left protesters replaced the Hennepin County flag with the Antifa flag at the Hennepin County Government Center.

Two days later, the right-wing CNS News web site further reported that the same protesters had burned the Hennepin County flag which they removed from a flag-pole outside the building.

Leftist "Antifa" protesters stormed a county government building in Minnesota, seized and burned the county flag - then replaced it with an Antifa flag - on Monday.

These posts use hyperbolic language and slightly exaggerate events -- for example, the protestors did not "storm" the building, but rather protested outside it.

There was an anti-racist protest in Minneapolis on 14 August 2017, which was organized to show solidarity with the counter-protestors at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesvile, Virginia two days earlier. Protestors did indeed remove a county flag  and replace it with an antifa flag.

According to the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, the demonstration involved: "the Anti-War Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, New North, the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee and other groups."

Video posted to Twitter by Leah Soule clearly shows some of the protesters erecting the antifa flag outside the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility (which includes the county jail).

In a statement, a spokesperson for Hennepin County confirmed the accuracy of these claims, but noted that the incident lasted for less than half an hour:

...There were protestors in front of the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility (jail) on Aug. 14. At roughly 7 p.m., the Hennepin County flag was taken down by someone in that group. It was damaged. The other flag was erected. It was up for less than 30 minutes. It was then replaced with a new Hennepin County flag.

The spokesperson further clarified that it was, indeed, protesters who destroyed the Hennepin County flag.

According to the Minneapolis Police Department, no arrests were made at the protest, and there is no ongoing investigation.


Pheifer, Pat.  "Minneapolis Anti-Racism Rally Draws Hundreds, Blocks Streets."   Star Tribune.  14 August 2017.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.