Fact Check

Did Protester in Ralph Lauren Polo Jacket Face Baton-Wielding Cop on Horseback?

A photograph shared widely in July 2021 appeared to capture a moment of remarkable visual symmetry. But did it really?

Published July 13, 2021

A mounted police officer raises their baton as police horses ride along Whitehall, past the entrance to Downing Street, in an attempt to disperse protestors gathered in central London on June 6, 2020, during a demonstration to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. - The United States braced Friday for massive weekend protests against racism and police brutality, as outrage soared over the latest law enforcement abuses against demonstrators that were caught on camera. With protests over last week's police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, surging into a second weekend, President Donald Trump sparked fresh controversy by saying it was a "great day" for Floyd. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images) (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images
As shown in a widely-shared photograph in July 2021, a protester wearing a Ralph Lauren Polo jacket once faced a visually similar riot police officer on horseback.

In July 2021, a widely-shared tweet appeared to show a remarkable moment of symmetry during a demonstration in the United Kingdom — a police officer on horseback, swinging a baton, facing a protester wearing a jacket with the Ralph Lauren Polo logo of a polo player on horseback swinging a mallet.

The poster, Tom Moylan, added the humorous caption, "Never meet your heroes":

Never meet your heroes

The photograph was also shared repeatedly on Facebook in the days after July 10.

In reality, the Ralph Lauren Polo logo on the protester's jacket was the result of digital editing after the fact, rather than the picture being a record of a remarkable moment of visual symmetry. As such, we are issuing a rating of "False."

It was captured for the AFP agency by the photographer Daniel Leal-Olivas, on June 6, 2020. The picture was taken near Downing Street in London, during a protest against racial injustice sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes, during an arrest in May 2020:

The "Polo" logo — first introduced by Ralph Lauren in 1971 — was digitally added by Marijn Achternaam, a graphic designer who specializes in fake, ironic brand advertising and product tie-ins on their Instagram page, which they describe as "Bridging the gap between art and advertising."  Achternaam posted the original phony photograph on June 18:

Polo jacket

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.