Did a Trump Campaign Ad Use a Photo from Ukraine of Protesters Hitting Police?

The United States is not the only country that has seen violent clashes between police and protesters.

  • Published 23 July 2020

Claim

A campaign advertisement on U.S. President Donald Trump's official Facebook account presented an old photograph from Ukraine as if it showed violence against police officers in the United States.

Origin

In July 2020, an advertisement for U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign started appearing on Trump’s official Facebook page showing a comparison of two images entitled “Public Safety” and “Chaos and Violence.” The “Public Safety” image showed Trump surrounded presumably by various members of law enforcement, while the “Chaos and Violence” image supposedly showed protesters beating up an American police officer:

Shortly after this ad started running, media outlets such as the BBC noticed that the image on the right was not taken in 2020, and that it didn’t show an incident from the United States. This image was actually taken in 2014, and shows a clash between police and protesters in Ukraine. 

The BBC reported:

A post by Donald Trump’s official Facebook account purports to show violence in the US but is in fact of an event in another country.

The advert shows one image of Mr Trump in a calm setting talking to police officers beside another of a security official being surrounded by protesters, saying: “Public safety vs chaos and violence”.

However, the image is a photo from a pro-democracy protest in Ukraine in 2014.

This photograph was taken by photographer Mstyslav Chernov in February 2014 during a protest in Kyiv, Ukraine. The image is available via Wikipedia under a “Creative Commons” license. The terms for this photograph state that it is free to use — as long as the photographer is given proper credit. But the advertisement on Trump’s Facebook page offered no mention of the photographer. 

Here’s an uncropped version of Chernov’s photograph:

Chernov confirmed to Business Insider that the Trump ad did indeed use his photograph from Ukraine in 2014. Chernov went on to say that the only way to combat this sort of deception is through “education and media literacy.”

Chernov said:

“Photography has always been used to manipulate public opinion. And with the rise of social media and the rise of populism, this is happening even more,” he said.

“The only way to combat this is through education and media literacy. When people learn to independently distinguish truth from lies, then the number of manipulations will decrease.”