Fact Check: Photos Of People Wounded By Rubber Bullets Are NOT From Melbourne, Australia

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: Photos Of People Wounded By Rubber Bullets Are NOT From Melbourne, Australia Older Photos

Do the photos in this tweet show the wounds created by rubber bullets fired by police in Melbourne, Australia? No, that's not true: While rubber bullets were allegedly used on protestors in September 2021 demonstrations in Melbourne, none of these three photos are from 2021 or from Australia.

The claim appeared in a tweet (archived here) on September 22, 2021. It read:

Rubber bullets used on freedom protestors in Melbourne, Australia by the police

This is what the tweet looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Thu Sep 23 17:15:39 2021 UTC)

We have provided screenshots from the app Reversee to show how we debunked the claim that these rubber bullet wounds were from 2021 Melbourne.

The photo of a person with wounds on their back is from December 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lead Stories found a tweet corresponding with the same time and place as the reverse image searches. Google searches show people are falsely using this picture and placing it during the Melbourne protests. However, results further down are news articles in Spanish from December 2015 reporting on the protests in Argentina during that time.


(Source: Google screenshot taken on Thu Sep 23 15:58:30 2021 UTC)

The second picture of a woman in a blue shirt showing a rubber bullet wound is from 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, according to an Internet search. The woman pictured is Pastor Renita Lamkin. Here is an article about her and her injury in the Huffington Post:


(Source: Google screenshot taken on Thu Sep 23 15:58:35 2021 UTC)

The picture seen at the bottom right of the tweet is of a woman with a wound to her left eye and forehead due to rubber bullets. A reverse image Google search of the photo led to an article about a protest in May 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. The woman, Shannyn White, later filed a lawsuit claiming police shot her in the face with a rubber bullet.


(Source: Google screenshot taken on Thu Sep 23 15:59:24 2021 UTC)

NPR reported on September 21, 2021, that "Riot police deployed on the scene allegedly used rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse crowds" in Melbourne. Lead Stories contacted the Victoria Police, which handles Melbourne, and the Australian Federal Police to ask if rubber bullets were used. We will update this story if we receive a response from either agency.

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Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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