Is This ‘Social Distancing = Communism’ Protest Sign Real?

At times it seems as if "communism" has become a general term to describe any undesirable action taken by government.

  • Published 11 May 2020

Claim

A sign shows an anti-lockdown protester carrying a sign reading "Social Distancing = Communism."

Origin

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The social distancing regulations and enforced business closures that formed part of efforts to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic had, by April 2020, brought protests in many U.S. cities demanding the easing of those restrictions. Photographs of signs carried at those protests — some real, some fake — were a popular topic on social media, including the following image that contrasted a photograph of a sign allegedly displayed at a lockdown protest with a photograph of signs carried by persons demonstrating against racial segregation:

The image of the “SOCIAL DISTANCING = COMMUNISM” sign is indeed real, a cropped version of a photograph of a demonstrator in Huntington Beach, California, protesting “against local and statewide stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic” in April 2020.

The image of the “Race Mixing Is Communism” signs is also real, taken in Little Rock, Arkansas, in August 1959 as protesters rallied at the state capitol to oppose implementation of the federally mandated desegregation of the city’s public high schools.

A picture of the the reverse side of the Huntington Beach protester’s sign (reading “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”) was widely circulated in a form that had been digitally manipulated to change the wording of its message.