False rumors circulating on social media about Greensboro protests | information
In a public post widespread on Facebook Tuesday night, allegedly from an account named Randy Bishop, it reads the following:
“I have just heard from a reliable source that the protesters blocking the I40 in Greensboro have been busied.” [sic] there and back to downtown with GTA buses [sic] after approval by the Mayor of Greensboro. Your tax money at work. “
No demonstrators were driven to I-40. I was there when the protesters initially gathered downtown and followed them as they walked down Elm-Eugene towards I-40, accompanied by patrol cars and police officers on bicycles under the command of Greensboro Police Department Sgt. Eric Goodykoontz. I accompanied her part of the way until another ankle injury forced me to stop.
That night, the protesters were actually brought back from the highway, but it was on the initiative of the GPD, not ordered or approved by Mayor Nancy Vaughan, and it was out of public safety concern.
“I had nothing to do with the whole bus thing,” Mayor Vaughan told YES! Weekly this morning. “I heard about it afterwards and thought it was a great decision. It shows the spirit of cooperation between the protesters and the police. It was an initiative of the GPD. I support it, but I can’t even order office supplies, let alone buses. “
GPD Public Information Officer Ronald Glenn, Jr. confirmed the mayor’s statement.
“The request about the buses came from the police. The buses were used to bring the protesters back downtown after the group walked to I-40. “
“I was made aware of the request and the rationale,” said Nathaniel “Trey” Davis, Assistant City Manager, Public Safety. “The GPD staff were really concerned about the safety of the protesters. Given the heat that day and the distance they had traveled, many would have been challenged to walk all the way back to the city center. “
This isn’t the first time a false rumor about the Greensboro protests has spread widely on social media. On Saturday night, an email with the name and business phone number of Jeff Bowen, Association Manager at Priestly Management Company, was passed on to Facebook and Reddit. It was said:
“I just had a long conversation with the manager of ELC, a retired military man. ELC is Roy Carroll’s private security company. News from these activists posted on various websites said there will be up to 2,500 protesters in the downtown park. After the rally, they will split off Old Irving Park, specifically the Greensboro Country Club, and come as far as possible. “
That night, Mayor Vaughan shared a picture of that email with the words THIS STATEMENT HAS BEEN RETRACTED Y’ALL stamped in red. The public posts, both on her and the official mayoral page, were headed THIS EMAIL HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN BY THE AUTHOR, which means it was actually sent by the person whose name was below. In her post, Vaughan stated that the GPD had investigated and found the claim to be unfounded. She also stated:
“The owner of ELC told me that he thought he was just having a ‘sidewalk discussion’ and didn’t think his comments would end up in an email. Words are important. “
That night I called the phone number in the email. The outbound message said it was the voicemail from Jeff Bowen of the Priestly Management Company. I left a message for Bowen asking if he wrote the email.
This call was not returned until Wednesday afternoon. A second call made today went straight to voicemail and was not returned either.