Maquoketa Chief of Police Explains Where Protest and Riot Rumors Originate
It's no secret that the Quad Cities has been on edge after Sunday night's civil unrest that led to the death of two, and prompted the area into enforcing a curfew. Every day since, rumors have been flying around the internet and by mouth about where the next big thing is going to happen.
Chief Brad Koranda of the Maquoketa Police Department issued a letter to local businesses to explain why the rumors have taken such a hold on the community, and it sheds light on what tactics those looking to bring worry and fear to our communities are using.
“Here are some things we are finding out about the rumors on Facebook about the protests and what some are terming a "false flag" demonstration event last night. The "false flag" events are apparently misinformation campaigns in small metro and rural communities across the country.
These campaigns appear to target youth and young adults and push them toward criminal activity while at the same time creating a sense o.f panic among local business leaders and political minded Facebook groups. Here’s apparently how it works.
1. An unknown person calls local leaders (often the Chamber of Commerce or Country Radio Station)
2. They tell the leaders that they have a tip about “out of state” rioters planning to protest at a specific time in the next day or two.
3. Then fake Facebook accounts start to promote the rumors on local Facebook pages and in local Facebook groups.
4. At the same time, local youth are targeted on social media and told to attend a rally at the same time and location.
Our event turned into a demonstration of a little over 50 people. A small handful were instigators from out of town, but they ended up leaving after some poignant conversations. All-in-all it ended in a positive light. There was no leader, it was very disorganized and all the attendees said they saw this event announcement on Facebook, but they didn't know where the information originated. We had several false claims of buses being at Wal-Mart and other box stores. I am assuming this was to continue inciting panic and diverting our resources. Our business community was very on edge throughout the afternoon and evening. Just be aware of this type of approach. Definitely another way to create fear and chaos in our communities.
It seems like there's definitely some ne'er do wells. The best thing for us to do is to get our Information from firm, reputable sources like news outlets and directly from police departments.
Stay safe out there, Quad Cities.