Fact Check

Was 'Proud Boy' Rob Cantrell Seen Screaming at Cop at Anti-Lockdown Protest?

A photograph truly shows a man screaming near an officer during an anti-lockdown protest.

Published May 6, 2020

A photograph shows Rob Cantrell, a member of the far-right group Proud Boys, screaming at an officer during an anti-lockdown protest in Michigan.

Snopes is still fighting an “infodemic” of rumors and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and you can help. Find out what we've learned and how to inoculate yourself against COVID-19 misinformation. Read the latest fact checks about the vaccines. Submit any questionable rumors and “advice” you encounter. Become a Founding Member to help us hire more fact-checkers. And, please, follow the CDC or WHO for guidance on protecting your community from the disease.

In May 2020, a photograph went viral on social media that supposedly shows Rob Cantrell, a member of the right-wing extremist group the "Proud Boys," screaming in the faces of two masked police officers during an anti-coronavirus-lockdown protest in Michigan:

This is a genuine photograph from a protest of lockdown orders implemented in Michigan as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. However, the man pictured here is not Cantrell but Brian Cash, a 52-year-old flooring installer from New Hudson, Michigan.

Cash confirmed to the Detroit Free Press that he was the man in the photograph but disputed the idea that he was yelling at the two pictured officers. Cash claims that he was actually yelling at an officer out of frame who, according to Cash, had assaulted a woman the day prior:

The Detroit Free Press reported:

Cash said he wasn't yelling at the state troopers seen in the photo — "I didn't scream in anybody's face" — but at an officer positioned behind them who he said he saw assault a woman the day before. Three women were removed from the public gallery for the state House of Representatives on April 29. The incident was caught on video, showing a woman being forcibly removed. The incident prompted an announcement by the Michigan State Police that it was investigating the confrontation between individuals and House police.

The next day, when the now-infamous photo of him was taken, Cash said he was in the Capitol when he saw the officer.

"I was there chanting, 'Let us in,' and I saw that guy and I just, I just kind of lost it a little bit," Cash said. He said that he was asking the man, whom he called a "red coat," a reference to the red coats they wear, "if he wanted to try to throw me around like he did that girl yesterday."

This viral photograph was taken by Jeff Kowalsky during an anti-lockdown protest dubbed an "American Patriot Rally" inside Michigan's Capitol building. Here's the original picture along with the correct caption:

screaming protester
TOPSHOT — Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber and are being kept out by the Michigan State Police after the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty protest for the reopening of businesses on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 30, 2020. - The group is upset with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's mandatory closure to curtail Covid-19. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)


Slotkin, Jason.   "Protesters Swarm Michigan Capitol Amid Showdown Over Governor's Emergency Powers."     NPR.   1 May 2020.

Kaufman, Gina.   "Michigan Man in Now-Famous Capitol Protest Photo: 'I Didn't Scream in Anybody's Face'."     USA Today.   5 May 2020.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

Article Tags