A post is going viral that shows a series of mugshots and claims that the majority of the people in the photo were teachers arrested in Portland for being Antifa members. The meme claims the teachers were recently arrested. However, the original mugshots were actually released by the Portland Police Department in 2017, and a number of the “13 teachers” in the photo actually aren’t.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Mugshots Are From a May Day Protest in 2017
When the meme is shared on social media, the photo’s caption typically reads something like: “Mug shots of Antifa members arrested in Portland!! 13 out of 20 are TEACHERS!! This should be a ‘wake up call.’”
Another version claims to have put a white “X” next to all the mugshots that belong to public school teachers. Below is an example of that version of the meme that is being passed around. It includes a caption that reads: “Mugs shots of Antifa members arrested in Portland. I’ve placed a white ‘X’ on the photos of those who are teachers in public schools across the country.”
Portland, Oregon, has seen daily protests since the late may killing of George Floyd, which has led many to believe that the photos being passed around are recent. But the mugshots are actually from 2017. Here’s the Portland Police Department’s tweet about the arrests in 2017.
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) May 2, 2017
You can also see the original photo near the end of an article by Oregon Live from May 2017 about 25 arrests at a Portland May Day march. An archived version of the story is here in case the original article is ever taken down.
The meme that’s being passed around cuts out the bottom row of mugshots, which contained two additional people along with three photos that weren’t available due to the age of those arrested. It’s not clear where the meme originated.
The May Day protest on May 1, 2017, was part of a series of marches worldwide for better working conditions. But at one point during the march, the protest was deemed a “riot” by police and 25 people were arrested, Oregon Live reported. Accounts from police and protest organizers differed. Oregon Live reported that protesters had set bonfires and vandalized a police car. The article said the majority of the people at the event were peaceful, but a small group engaged in property damage and threw smoke bombs and a Molotov cocktail at police.
The Portland May Day Coalition, which organized the rally, wrote on Facebook that the police had escalated the march, in an account that differed from the police and from Oregon Live’s report.
The Portland May Day Coalition said that the permit for the march was revoked in the middle of the march, making the situation tenser.
The Original Story Never Listed the Jobs of Those Arrested
The Oregon Live story listed the names of those who were arrested but did not indicate what their jobs were. Most faced charges of second-degree disorderly conduct. One was 18, one was 19, some were in their early 20s, and others were in their 30s or 40s. Three underaged individuals were also arrested and not publicly named.
However, details about their jobs were not released. The Gateway Pundit’s coverage of the arrests did not include the jobs of those arrested, and Oregon Live’s story did not list jobs either, although it did list the names.
It’s not clear where the meme originated from, but there’s no evidence that so many people in the photos were teachers. In fact, Heavy researched some of the people in the photo that were marked with “X” next to their names to indicate that they were teachers. Only one could be confirmed to have worked in education, but there was not an indication that they worked in public schools. Others did not appear to have a connection to public schools, contrary to the meme.
Here’s the meme again. It claims to highlight the “teachers” in the photo with an “X” next to their pictures.
The woman in the upper right corner is Lucy Elizabeth Smith, listed by Oregon Live as being 35 when she was arrested. Heavy could not find anything to connect Smith to a teaching career. A tweet by Andy Ngo in 2019 noted that she had been arrested multiple times in Portland protests. One arrest was for putting a man in a chokehold, but the charges were dropped when it was concluded that she might have been acting in defense of others, Oregon Live reported.
Christopher Fellini is in the top row, second from the right, and also has a white “X” next to his name. He was recently arrested in connection with other Portland protests, and several online listings note that he is a social worker but not a public school teacher.
Glenn Allen Silbersdorff, who is pictured on the second row in the middle, also has a white “X” next to his name. Heavy could not confirm any connection between Silbersdorff and a teaching career. A filing with the Oregon Secretary of State from 2018 indicated that someone with the same name in Portland worked in road construction, not teaching.
John Barton Elliott, who is pictured second from the bottom and second from the right, also has an “X” next to his photo. When he was arrested in 2017, he was later connected to charges from 2016, KATU reported. He was accused of smashing cars at the Broadway Toyota and windows at two Portland banks. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal mischief and second-degree arson. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and community service. Oregon Live noted that Elliott worked as a bike messenger and had no previous criminal history except for a misdemeanor. Although marked as a “public teacher” in the meme, Elliott had no discernible connection to public school teaching.