CLAIM: Photo shows a massive crowd in a parking lot at President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
THE FACTS: The photo shows an event in Arlington, Virginia, not Trump’s rally in Tulsa.
On Saturday, June 21, as Trump prepared for a rally in Tulsa, posts began circulating online sharing a photo of a red car passing a parking lot crowded with people. “Look at Tulsa now!!!!” stated one Facebook post with more than 3,000 shares. In reality, the photo shows the North Pentagon parking lot in Arlington, Virginia, a location that has been used by the Rolling Thunder, a group that honors prisoners of war and service members killed in action, for their annual motorcycle demonstration.
Similar photos on the Rolling Thunder Washington, DC Inc., Facebook page match the parking lot, surrounding greenery and a building in the background of the one being misrepresented online. Rolling Thunder Washington, DC confirmed to The Associated Press that the photo appeared to show a Rolling Thunder event in a Pentagon parking lot. Photos of the event online also show the Washington Monument in the background. “First Amendment Demonstration Run - Bikes leave the North Pentagon parking lot to begin their run through the Mall area,” Rolling Thunder organizers wrote on their website, showing a map of the area.
The photo was widely misrepresented on social media, including by Donald Trump Jr., who posted it to Facebook the day of his father’s rally. “The Silent Majority is about to GET LOUD," he wrote. The misrepresented Arlington photo was labeled: “Line for today’s Trump rally.” One Instagram post sharing the misrepresented photos received about 30,000 likes. Posts falsely identifying the photo also circulated widely following reports that turnout at Trump’s Tulsa rally on Saturday was far lower than anticipated.
According to estimates by the city’s fire marshal’s office, about 6,200 people gathered in the BOK center for the rally. The center will hold about 19,000 people. Other posts shared the photo in a side-by-side comparison with a photo that appeared to show poor turnout at a June 17 campaign event for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Darby, Pennsylvania. “A Joe Biden ‘rally’ this week,” said the caption with the photo taken at the Biden event, which was closed to the public and allowed only journalists and nine official attendees.