Fact Check

Loretta Lynch: 'Confederate Flag Tattoos Must All Be Removed IMMEDIATELY'

Attorney General Loretta Lynch hasn't demanded that all Confederate flag tattoos be "removed" -- nor could she.

Published Aug. 8, 2016

Attorney General Loretta Lynch declared that all Confederate flag tattoos must be removed immediately.

On 4 August 2016 the notoriously unreliable (and often barely coherent) web site Conservative Daily Post published a clickbait article under a headline asserting that Attorney General Loretta Lynch had demanded all Confederate flag tattoos be "removed" (exactly what the tattoos were to be "removed" from was not explained):


That article was picked up from one posted by the likewise notoriously unreliable Conservative Tribune ("DOJ Issues Shocking Orders on Confederate Flag Tattoos"), which in turn cited an article from the likewise notoriously unreliable WND.

The headlines were enough to get Facebook users riled up and sharing, but the content of the underlying articles did not suggest that Attorney General Lynch had issued any orders regarding Confederate flag tattoos:

History in general is filled with various artifacts that can either represent the good or bad sign of humans in general. The American flag is a symbol of good because it showed the uniting of colonies and the beginning of the United States of America. However there are symbols of bad times, like the Nazi flag. No matter what side they are on, they represent some sort of historical significance.

And yet we flash back to last summer when people were “offended” by the flag and demanded that it get taken down. Ever since then, the flags have been disappearing, despite the fact that they are part of the history of this great land. And because of that, it seems that the Department of Justice has found a new way to determine who is racist and who isn’t ... Two men were arrested for beating up an African American man and charged with a hate crime. Going through their Facebook feed, it is pretty easy to see how they are racist. They had pictures of Adolf Hitler, the KKK, and other various white power symbols. But the one thing that the DOJ did include that shouldn’t be included was pictures of the Confederate Flag.

These articles referenced a 29 July 2016 report about the arrests and arraignments of two men charged with a hate crime over the beating of a black man, which noted that one of the suspects bore a Confederate flag tattoo:

Federal prosecutors announced the filing of criminal charges against a pair of Toldeo, Ohio residents in connection with the beating of Adrian Williams, 46, in mid-May. A U.S. District Court complaint alleges that Charles Butler, 33, and Robert Paschalis, 25, assaulted Williams “because he was black.”

In an FBI affidavit supporting the complaint, Agent Ian Moore described Butler as an avowed racist whose Facebook account reveals his “white supremacy.” Agent Moore noted that Butler’s Facebook page includes photos and posts of “Adolph Hitler, burning crosses, Nazi war eagles, Aryan Nationalist Alliance logos, Confederate flags, the Ku Klux Klan, references to President Obama as a monkey, and various white pride symbols.”

In a section of the complaint titled “Evidence of Racial Animus,” the federal agent also noted that Butler has “numerous tattoos indicative of white supremacy, including the German War Eagle, a portrait of Adolph Hitler, a Swastika and a Confederate flag.”

So yes, a Confederate flag tattoo, in conjunction with many other factors, was cited as “evidence of racial animus” in reference to a suspect charged with assaulting a man “because he was black.” But nothing about the case declared that a Confederate flag tattoo on its own demonstrated the wearer bore "racial animus," and no possible contortion of logic led to the conclusion Loretta Lynch had demanded all extant Confederate tattoos be "removed."

The assertion was prima facie preposterous, given that the procedure to remove tattoos is risky, expensive, and painful, and the Attorney General has no authority to issue or enforce such an order against the general public.

The claim that Loretta Lynch demanded all Confederate flag tattoos be removed wasn't the first excessively misleading or outright false bit of clickbait fronted by Conservative Daily Post. During tensions between the community and police in July 2016, the outlet fabricated a story about an "illegal immigrant" employed at McDonald's telling police officers she didn't "serve pigs," and more recently was duped by a fake news story about President Obama's moving his family to Canada.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.