Fact Check: 'Honest Abe' At Lincoln Memorial Was NOT Vandalized With Graffiti By Protesters

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fact Check: 'Honest Abe' At Lincoln Memorial Was NOT Vandalized With Graffiti By Protesters Abe's OK

Did protesters tag "Honest Abe" at the Lincoln Memorial with "Black Lives Matter" graffiti? No, that's not true: The image showing a chunk of Lincoln's head missing and the rest of him covered with words and names drawn in blue, red, black, yellow and green paint was digitally created. The giant statute of Lincoln sitting was untouched and well-protected by a platoon of National Guard troops during the June 2020 protests in Washington, D.C.

The claim appeared in a meme (archived here) shared on Facebook on June 5, 2020. Text at the top of the meme read:

This picture was taken down I guess the left is trying to hide what they did to honest abe

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Jun 5 23:18:46 2020 UTC)

The first major clue that this image is fake comes from a close examination of the purported graffiti. The writing does not follow the contours of the sculpture. For example, look at "Freddie" across the abdomen.

fake abe vandal.jpg

The best evidence is from recent photos of the memorial. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted a photo showing dozens of National Guard troops positioned on the memorial steps, protecting the Lincoln statue.

While the number of soldiers protecting the memorial is higher during the protests, other images show troops remained in place afterward.

lincoln ng.jpg

Another series of misleading posts include two real photos of vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial, although these images are from years earlier and are unrelated to the 2020 protests. This is an example:

The photo of the red writing on a white column is from vandalism in April, 2017, as reported by ABC News in a story titled Lincoln Memorial vandalized with explicit graffiti.

f linc.jpg

The photo of green paint splashed on Lincoln is from July, 2013, according a local NBC report.

lincoln green.jpg

However, the third photo showing the "Yall not tired yet?" message is from around May 31, 2020, according to a local TV report titled Protesters deface World War II Memorial and other National Mall monuments.

yall tired.jpg

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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