Fact Check: People Attending A Rally In Newport News, Virginia, Did NOT Give A Nazi Salute To Donald Trump

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: People Attending A Rally In Newport News, Virginia, Did NOT Give A Nazi Salute To Donald Trump Holding Phones

Did the crowd at a rally in Virginia raise their arms to salute President Donald Trump in a gesture like the infamous "Sieg Heil!" salute used by the Nazi Party? No, that's not what is happening in this photo. Most of the raised hands in this photo are using their cell phone cameras to get a better view and record the event. Some people may also just be waving, This scene shows the overflow area of a rally at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport where people were struggling to get a view of the stage. Even people who were positioned close to the stage were using their phones to get a better view.

The screenshot of a photo was reposted (archived here) on October 12, 2020, with the caption, "This is real! And it happened in Virginia. Are you scared yet? Be there November 3rd to stomp out this behavior! Put them back where roaches belong!" The text within the screenshot said:

Last Friday night from near my hometown. Newport News Virginia. A picture is worth 1000 words. Hard to believe.

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

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Oct 14 15:06:57 2020 UTC)

This photo appears to have been taken at the Trump rally at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport on Friday September 25, 2020. Visible in the scene is the #2 on the exterior of the hangar, the aqua "Atlantic Aviation" banner hanging inside the building and the crane trucks with outriggers. While the source of the particular photo has not been located, many other photos and videos exist that show this scene from several angles.

Evan Watson, a reporter for 13News Now, captured many scenes from the rally and posted them on Twitter. In the video that shows Air Force One arriving, it is clear to see how the audience was using their phones to get a view over the crowd.

Cameraman Justin Fleenor from WTKR3 also captured the overflow crowd in front of the Atlantic Aviation Hangar.

To get a feeling for what it was like for people who were in the crowd, this video posted by DarkStoneCastle YouTube channel captures the arrival of Air Force One from the perspective of a rally-goer. At the 5:22 mark in the video, the #2 of the Atlantic Aviation Hangar, which appears in the viral photo, is in the frame.

Additional context:
In one of Evan Watson's photos of the overflow crowd, a flag is visible, flown at half-staff. This would have been in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who had died on September 18, 2020. President Trump ordered the flags on all U.S. federal buildings to be flown at half-staff until she was interred. The private funeral took place on September 29, 2020, at Arlington National Cemetery.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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