On April 15, 2020, hundreds of Michiganders turned up in the state’s capitol for Operation Gridlock, a protest against the stay-at-home orders implemented to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. As social media lit up with comments and photographs of the event, one image supposedly showing a flag bearing a swastika flag and the words “Trump” and “Pence” started to go viral.
This appears to be a genuine photograph. However, it was not taken in Lansing, Michigan, during Operation Gridlock in April 2020 and it may not actually show a Trump supporter.
This photograph was taken a month earlier at a protest in Boise, Idaho. Twitter user @notaxiwarrior first shared this image on March 2, 2020, along with the following caption:
Today I witnessed a bunch of trump supporters crashing a peaceful rally I was attending with my family. They were profane, disrespectful & crowded behind a nazi flag. Not one trumpster confronted him on his racism. They all stood behind him of course, showing their true selves
In a follow-up message, @notaxiwarrior added more details:
Edit for clarification: This was at a Bernie Sanders rally, the trump supporters were counter protesting. It was held at the Ann Morrison park in Boise, ID.
Today I witnessed a bunch of trump supporters crashing a peaceful rally I was attending with my family. They were profane.
It should be noted that while this photograph is real, the person holding this flag may not actually be a Trump supporter. Additional images from the event appear to show that this person was holding a Bernie Sanders sign at another point during the rally:
Footage of this person holding the flag can be glimpsed around the 4:30 mark of the following video:
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that a Nazi symbol has been displayed at a Bernie Sanders rally. A few days after this photograph was taken, a man unfurled a Nazi flag at a Sanders rally in Arizona, as BuzzFeed News reported:
A man waving a Nazi flag and shouting “Heil Hitler” was kicked out of a rally for Bernie Sanders on Thursday, a shocking incident targeting the man running to be the first Jewish president.
The flag, styled professionally in the actual designs of Nazi Germany, hung prominently over a banister at the 7,000-person Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the start of Sanders’ speech. The person stationed himself in the upper deck of the arena, behind where Sanders was speaking.
The above-displayed image was not taken during the Operation Gridlock protest in April 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. However, at least one protester did display a swastika at Operation Gridlock to suggest that the “stay-at-home” orders implemented in Michigan were comparable to Nazi Germany.