Fact check: Were ‘Antifa Anarchists’ behind 2016 Charlotte protests, as McCrory tweeted?

North Carolina

FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, file photo, former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory participates in a University of North Carolina Institute of Politics forum in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Republican Senate candidate Pat McCrory took to Twitter to remind everyone how he emphasized law and order during his term as governor — specifically, during one series of violent protests.

But is he pointing the finger at the wrong group?

THE CLAIM: “As Governor, I deployed the National Guard when Antifa tried to take over,” McCrory tweeted Dec. 15.

He followed that two days later with another tweet that accused “Twitter Liberals & media elite” of trying “to attack me for my decision to deploy the National Guard when Antifa Anarchists tried to destroy our city- but the businesses, police & families who were protected by our Guard are thankful we stood up for them when they were under attack.”

THE FACTS: CBS 17 News reached out to McCrory’s Senate campaign three times in the past week to clarify the specific incident he was referencing.

He appears to be referring to the demonstrations that turned violent in Charlotte following the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in 2016. Dozens were arrested and property was destroyed during the multi-night protests.

“It was a scary time for Charlotte,” Jennifer Roberts, the mayor at the time, told CBS 17 News.

It’s true that McCrory declared a state of emergency and started efforts to deploy the National Guard, Roberts said.

“The National Guard was called by the governor, our police chief collaborated, to let us know when they were needed,” Roberts said.

But Roberts says McCrory has misidentified who was behind those demonstrations.

“That was not Antifa,” she said.

Rather, that was a Black Lives Matter protest, she said. The concept of Antifa didn’t even gain momentum until a year later.

It’s an important distinction to make because they have different motivations. Black Lives Matter advocates for racial justice and civil rights. The Anti-Defamation League says people who support Antifa — short for “anti-fascist” — oppose people or groups they consider authoritarian or racist.

“That is a mischaracterization of the people who were in the streets,” Roberts said.

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