Heavy is retracting an earlier version of this report that misidentified a man seen in a viral video of a pro-Trump parade in The Villages, Florida. The initial report identified the man as Roger Stokes.
The Heavy report cited the Miami Herald’s reporting, which said Stokes had been confirmed as the man in the video. Stokes and his family later provided proof he was not the man seen in the video. Heavy apologizes for the error.
The Miami Herald said in its retraction:
A retired Miami-Dade firefighter named on social media and in the Miami Herald as the man who yelled “white power” during a Central Florida rally in support of President Donald Trump is the victim of mistaken identity and backlash that has forced him to move from his home, his attorneys say. The Herald has taken down its original story and apologizes for the error.
The Twitter video was uploaded by an unknown user in June and received millions of views after being boosted by President Donald Trump and others a day later. The short clip takes place at The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, and features a parade of pro-Trump supporters on electric carts arguing with anti-Trump protesters.
At one point, a white man holding a sign reading,”Make America Sane Again,” yells: “Where’s your white hood?” The man, sporting “Trump 2020” campaign posters, then shouts back, “white power.” The man in the video was misidentified on social media and by The Miami Herald as Stokes, but it is not Stokes. His identity is not known.
Seniors from The Villages in Florida protesting against each other: pic.twitter.com/Q3GRJCTjEW
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) June 27, 2020
Trump retweeted the video in June, thanking the “great people” shown, the Herald reported. “Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” Trump tweeted. “The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe [Biden] is shot. See you soon!!!” Trump later deleted the tweet after facing widespread backlash for sharing Stokes’ message.
Strange Days Podcast host Fernand Amandi was the first to misidentify Stokes as the man in the video, calling on the Miami Fire Rescue to denounce their former employee. The fire department initially issued a statement distancing itself from Stokes, but later issued an updated statement saying it had learned the man in the video was not the retired firefighter.
“Based on a video posted on social media identifying this individual as Mister Stokes, the Department put out a statement simply to clarify MDFR’s stance on this matter, and not as a confirmation of Mr. Stokes’ participation,” the fire department said. The department later issued a statement retracting its initial comments and saying Stokes was not the man in the video.
According to the Miami Herald, “Stokes’ attorneys say he owns a different golf cart than the man in the video and was not involved in the rally. They said they were working to identify the Villages resident who yelled the racist remark but had not yet confirmed his identity.”
In August, Villages-News.com wrote that Stokes, “wasn’t anywhere near the demonstration,” and “finds himself navigating his new life that comes courtesy of regular threats to him and his family—a new life that, according to Stokes’ attorneys, includes him being forced to flee his home in The Villages immediately after the false identification was posted.”
Heavy regrets the error in misidentifying Stokes as the man in the video.