Fact Check: Woman Applying Lip Gloss In Police Shield Reflection Is NOT At Pro-Palestine Protest On US Campus

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Woman Applying Lip Gloss In Police Shield Reflection Is NOT At Pro-Palestine Protest On US Campus Tbilisi Photo

Does a photo show a pro-Palestine protester in the United States defiantly using an officer's riot shield as a mirror as she applies her lip gloss? No, that's not true: This photo's authentic caption says it shows a protester in Tbilisi, Georgia. A different photo from a Reuters photographer covering the April 16, 2024, demonstrations in Tbilisi against a proposed "foreign agents" bill shows the same building in the background, corroborating the location as Georgia. The demonstration in Tbilisi was unrelated to pro-Palestine college campus protests in the United States.

The claim appeared in a post on X by @rcmoya84 on May 2, 2024, which was captioned:

I don't know who she is but she's iconic. A true queen.

This is what the post looked like on X, formerly known as Twitter, at the time of the writing of this fact check:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri May 3 16:57:42 2024 UTC)

A reverse image search (archived here) for this photo with Google Lens leads to results with a mix of captions -- some claim this is a campus protest, and others identify the location as Tbilisi. Two April 17, 2024, posts, one on Reddit, with a wider crop than seen in other instances, and a post on Instagram (pictured below) from an account in Tbilisi captioned in Georgian. Translated by Lead Stories, it read:

The future of Georgia is in Europe! 🇬🇪🇪🇺 So many times and forever (we've been saying this.) #არარუსეთს (#notorussia)


(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri May 3 18:26:40 2024 UTC)

An April 20, 2024, post on X (pictured below) was captioned:

The Parliament in Georgia is trying to pass a russian-style law again that would block their EU path, and Georgians aren't really fond of it


(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri May 3 18:26:40 2024 UTC)

Although these posts do give a strong indication that the photo was from Tbilisi, Lead Stories wanted further verification of the location.

The lip-gloss image did not appear in news coverage of the protests in Georgia.

Lead Stories searched Google for news from "April 16 2024 protests in Tbilisi Georgia" and found a photo in an April 17, 2024, Reuters article that showed protesters facing off against riot police. A building in the background features the same stains and hanging wire as pictured in the background of the lip-gloss image. The Reuters photo by Irakli Gedenidze was captioned:

Demonstrators stand in front of police officers during a protest against a draft bill on 'foreign agents' in Tbilisi, Georgia April 16, 2024.


(Source: Lead Stories composite image with Reuters and X screenshots taken on Fri May 3 18:51:33 2024 UTC)

Three screenshots of posts on X (here, here and here) from May 2-3, 2024, show that people on both sides of the Hamas-Israel war fell for the mislabeled image, with captions such as:

  • Palestine loves you babe!
    You are such an American queen.

  • I look at this and see someone who is 1000% unprepared for the level of force the state intends to use to repress this recent wave of student protest. I don't see how yall still find this iconic or inspiring

  • A true queen doesn't side with terrorist barbarians like Hamas.


(Source: X screenshots taken on Fri May 3 18:26:40 2024 UTC)

This is not the first time a photo of a woman went viral when facing off with riot police in this manner. In 2015, Jasmina Golubovska not only applied red lipstick, but planted a red kiss on a riot policeman's shield in Skopje, Macedonia. The Guardian reported on the viral photo (pictured below) in an article titled, "Macedonia's lipstick protester: 'I saw the policeman smile very slightly.'"

(Source: theguardian.com screenshot taken on Fri May 3 19:45:55 2024 UTC)

Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims about U.S. protests over the Hamas-Israel war can be found here.

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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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