A photo has widely circulated on the Internet, with some people falsely claiming that it shows Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin wearing a “Make Whites Great Again” hat. However, Officer Chauvin is not in that photo. The allegation is false, according to multiple news reports.
Brandy Zadrozny, a reporter for NBC News, wrote on Twitter, “Please stop sharing the photo of the guy in the ‘Make Whites Great Again’ hat. It isn’t Derek Chauvin. He’s a zombie troll. If something seems too outrageous to believe, it often is.” Snopes also debunked the photo, writing, “This photograph actually appears to show Jonathan Riches.”
Derek Chauvin has been named as the Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer who was seen in a viral video kneeling on the neck of a black man named George Floyd who then went silent and later died after repeatedly pleading in anguished tones that he couldn’t breathe.
Luke O’Brien, a Huffington Post reporter, wrote, “The man on the right isn’t Derek Chauvin. He isn’t a cop. He is Jonathan Lee Riches, a notorious con man, troll and prankster, not to mention the ‘world’s most litigious man.’ Riches injects himself, indefensibly, into tragic news events, even if it means going to prison.”
All of this didn’t stop the false claim from widely circulating on social media. Even celebrities shared it; Ice Cube wrote, “A wolf in wolves clothing. The demons are among us. #Fightthecowards.” But again, the photo does not show Derek Chauvin. Ice Cube tweeted out a collage showing an actual picture of Chauvin next to the other photo that is not him.
Others also shared the same false information.
Joseph A. Camp, who writes on Facebook that he is “in a domestic partnership with Jonathan Riches,” has been writing about the photo on his Facebook page. Camp wrote on his page, “Just so we are clear, Jonathan Riches and I just trolled Snopes as well. We are not a real domestic partnership. Stop harassing my husband.” He wrote that Ice Cube had tweeted a “photoshop image” that falsely said “Riches was the cop in Minneapolis…”
He added: “Mega viral. Over 60K trending right now. Number 1 in the USA on Twitter.” He called it “FAKE news and photoshopped images.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Jonathan Lee Riches Has Been Called ‘The Most Prolific Jailhouse Lawyer of All Time’
Who is Jonathan Lee Riches? In 2013, the New Republic called him “the most prolific jailhouse lawyer of all time.” He “sued the president, sought to intervene in the bankruptcy proceedings against Bernard L. Madoff and filed civil complaints against public figures ranging from Allen Iverson to Timothy McVeigh,” the article notes, adding that he had just finished serving a 10-year prison sentence.
ABC News reported that Riches once sued the Guinness Book of World Records after learning it “planned to name him the most litigious man.
According to the New Republic, Riches “helped develop the identity theft technique known as phishing.”
The Huffington Post reported that Riches duped the New Yorker, which posted a story about a supposed “Trumphead” named Jonah Rich who attended Trump rallies around the country and claimed he was indoctrinated by liberal professors. He was carrying a sign that said, “Jews for Trump.” It turned out it was really Jonathan Lee Riches, labeled by Huffington Post as an “OG troll” who’d “bamboozled” the New Yorker, and before the magazine, other media outlets. His prison term was for wire fraud, according to the article.
The article says that Riches once visited the site of the Sandy Hook school mass shooting. He falsely claimed he was the shooter’s uncle, according to Huffington Post. He has popped up in other media controversies. He once offered Bill Cosby Jell-o as Cosby walked into his rape trial, Huffington Post reported.
The Minneapolis Shooting Has Generated Outrage
Four officers, including Chauvin, have already lost their jobs in connection with Floyd’s death.
The Minneapolis mayor tweeted that “four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated. This is the right call.” He didn’t name them. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo called the four officers “former employees” in a news conference.
Floyd was originally from Houston, Texas. He was known by the nickname “Big Floyd,” his Facebook page says. The Star Tribune reported that the initial call came in for someone using a counterfeit bill at a store, Cup Foods, at 3759 Chicago Avenue. When police arrived, they believed Floyd matched the description and found him sitting on the hood of his car, according to the newspaper.
Federal officials are investigating the death after a video went viral showing Chauvin, 44, kneeling on the man’s neck as he continually complained that he couldn’t breathe. The video shows the officer continued kneeling on Floyd’s neck even after he appeared to go unresponsive, and numerous bystanders shouted that the officer was endangering Floyd and should get his knee off the man’s neck.
“As additional information has been made available, it has been determined that the Federal Bureau of Investigations will be a part of this investigation,” Minneapolis police wrote in a news release. Floyd’s name was released by community leaders.
A 10-minute video was posted to Facebook by a bystander. It paints an extremely troubling scene of what happened to Floyd. You can watch it above, but be warned that it’s very disturbing.
“Please, I can’t breathe. Please man. Please,” Floyd says, his voice anguished.
The officer, now identified as Chauvin, has his knee on the man’s neck against a squad car, as Floyd continues saying he can’t breathe. There is a second officer standing nearby at the scene and a third next to Chauvin, and bystanders grow increasingly distressed in the video at what they are watching.
“Why you got him down, man. Let him breathe at least, man,” says one bystander to the officers.
Floyd repeats again, several times, “I can’t breathe.” He added, “I can’t move. … My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. Please, please.”