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People Say Pallets Of Bricks Are Showing Up Near Protests All Over The US. The Truth Is More Complicated.

As of now, there's no evidence to support claims of coordinated brick placements at protests.

Last updated on June 5, 2020, at 2:15 p.m. ET

Posted on June 2, 2020, at 6:24 p.m. ET

A wave of social media posts and images have claimed that pallets of bricks have been appearing near the locations of protests in cities all over the United States. This sparked rampant speculation that the bricks are part of a coordinated effort to incite violence as a way to entrap protesters and instigate chaos.

BuzzFeed News has documented claims made about bricks in Boston, Dallas, Kansas City, San Francisco, and elsewhere. In several cases, bricks were placed long before protests began in the US, or they are clearly linked to ongoing construction. As of now, there's no evidence to support claims of coordinated brick placements at protests. However, now that the claims have spread across social media — and been amplified by the White House — it’s possible that people could be inspired to start collecting and placing bricks.

Here’s a breakdown of claims about bricks appearing in different locations and the information available as of now. This post will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

If you have information to share, please email craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com or message @craigsilverman on Twitter.


1. Multiple tweets claimed that pallets of bricks had been "planted" in Frisco, Texas, ahead of protests in the city. In each case, police and local crews said they were part of ongoing construction.

Twitter

The bricks shown above were being used to fix the sidewalk under the highway. They were soon covered up by the crews working on the project.

They covered the bricks. There is construction near. I had to fact check for you all 💗 #frisco

In another case, bricks were discovered not far from where a protest was due to take place on June 1. A spokesperson for the Frisco Police Department told the Associated Press the bricks were for a local homeowners association project.

“At this point, our department has no intelligence to suggest that any bricks have been placed on this specific route in advance of this protest for violent purposes," Sgt. Evan Mattei told AP.

2. These stacks of "random-ass bricks" were the focus of a video shot in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The man who narrated it claimed there wasn't any construction in the area. He questioned why the bricks were placed in the middle of a protest, but there's a good explanation.

Twitter / @64hunblock / Via Twitter: @64hunblock

BBC News investigated and found a YouTube video showing that the bricks had been in that location since at least May 24, the day before George Floyd was killed. The BBC also found a city document that indicated the area was scheduled for construction.

A YouTube video from 24 May - found by @BenDoBrown - shows phase two of reopening the city after the coronavirus lockdown. The same pile of bricks are visible in the bottom right. A local resident also confirmed bricks have been in that area for "months" for construction work

3. A YouTube video with "Antifa Terrorism" in the title claimed to show "crates of bricks" along a street in Sherman Oaks, California. "That don't look right to me," says the man behind the camera. These are in fact security barriers installed to protect a Jewish community building.

YouTube / Via youtube.com

"To all our concerned neighbors and friends, there were false pictures and videos going around today, claiming some bricks or rocks were placed at our center," wrote Chabad of Sherman Oaks on Facebook. "Here is the truth: THESE ARE SECURITY BARRIERS and have been here for almost a year!"

The organization said it temporarily removed the stones as a precaution.

4. This video shows two law enforcement officers unloading bricks from the back of their vehicle. The video's narration suggests they're doing this for nefarious reasons, likely related to the protests. That's apparently not the case.

Twitter / @loch_northern / Via Twitter: @loch_northern

The officers are members of the Northeastern University Police Department in Boston, which patrols the campus. After the video went viral, the NUPD issued a series of tweets to explain that its officers had collected the bricks from a damaged sidewalk nearby and brought them to the headquarters.

They were in the process of unloading the bricks when the video was filmed, according to the NUPD.

Twitter / @northeasternpd / Via Twitter: @northeasternpd

The user who made the video, @chill_lesh, later deleted it and said she was "not interested in spreading misinformation."

5. Multiple viral social media posts claimed that a pallet of bricks in Dallas was part of a government scheme to entrap protesters. The placement of these bricks was investigated by NBC News, and there is no evidence of government involvement.

Instagram

Loránd Bodó, an NBC News producer, was able to pinpoint the exact location of the bricks in Dallas. He found a Google Street View image that showed they have been there since at least February.

Google Maps Street view from February 2020 offers an interesting insight. It shows the piles of bricks at the same location and when moving further down the street, there's an actual construction site. H/T @rickfable: https://t.co/OhOI1QkThm

In spite of those details, the Dallas bricks are now being woven into the sprawling QAnon conspiracy theory. Some QAnon followers have baselessly claimed the bricks are from a company owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, and that they have ties to Bill Gates and other powerful figures.

Twitter


6. Another stack of bricks in Dallas were featured in a viral video shot by a protestor outside the city courthouse. "This is a set up," he says, claiming there isn't construction in the area. That's not true. Photos and government records show roadwork is underway at that location.

This photo, taken March 31, shows construction at the same corner where the video was filmed. Dallas city records list a "street resurfacing" project for that location.

Twitter / @twarson / Via Twitter: @twarson

Gizmodo spoke to a Dallas city official who said that security footage of the area was examined. “No verified security footage or other intelligence indicates bricks were deliberately placed there,” they said. The official added that the bricks were removed out of “an abundance of caution.”

And here's another photo of the construction going on in the area, taken on May 31 by Twitter user @twarson.

@twarson / Via gizmodo.com


7. A Twitter user tagged San Francisco Mayor London Breed to say that "mysterious brick placing is happening in our city in an attempt to escalate our protests" — but the police say the bricks are there for a construction project.

Twitter

The San Francisco Police Department said it looked into why the bricks were there and is getting the contractor to remove them.

@lextayham @LondonBreed We have confirmed these pallets are affiliated with a construction site and have contacted the contractor to have them removed. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

8. This video shows protesters coming upon a cache of bricks in New York City on May 31. However, the bricks were protected by barriers, and there appears to be construction scaffolding in the background.

"Yo, we got bricks. We got bricks!"—#Rioters in Manhattan chanced upon a cache in the street equipped with bricks and a shovel at 10:01 p.m. on Second Ave between St. Marks Pl. and Seventh St.

9. The Kansas City Police Department tweeted on May 31 that it found "stashes of bricks and rocks" that could be used "during a riot." It did not share a photo of its discovery nor say how many it found. The police have not released evidence to support this claim.

We have learned of & discovered stashes of bricks and rocks in & around the Plaza and Westport to be used during a riot. If you see anything like this, you can text 911 and let us know so we can remove them. This keeps everyone safe and allows your voice to continue to be heard.

10. Similarly, the city of Houston's emergency information service said on June 2 that the Public Works Department "removed several piles of bricks and rocks from several locations." It did not release any other details.

AlertHouston: HPW has removed several piles of bricks and rocks from several locations in Houston this afternoon. Please call 311 (or HPD's non-emergency line, 713.884.3131), to report any suspicious activity or if you see someone leaving these items in th https://t.co/Ccqex1DY0Q

11. A pile of bricks seen near the courthouse in Fort Myers, Florida, set off speculation they had been planted for protestors. But city officials told the local NBC station that the bricks were "temporarily stored to install a fiber optic cable."

Twitter / @tasteofwang1

A man who works in the area confirmed he'd seen the bricks long before the protests started.

"The bricks have been here for a long time," said Carlos Cavenago. "I first noticed them when they started repairing them along the sidewalk, and it's a sad coincidence that there is rioting and people noticed the pile of bricks but I've been seeing them for a while."

12. Twitter users shared images and videos of a pallet of bricks located several blocks away from a protest in Orlando. But the photos and video show they were placed at a construction site, and not along the protest route.

Twitter

An image from the video shows the bricks are located next to an apartment/condo construction site. This video still shows a digger in the background. Additional construction equipment and materials are also visible in the video.

Twitter / @Ceeyo438 / Via Twitter: @Ceeyo438

13. Residents in Wilmington, Delaware, became alarmed when they spotted two pallets of bricks in front of the Jalisco Mexican Grocery, a beloved local taco and food shop. Some even called the police. But Eva Lopez, the owner of Jalisco, told BuzzFeed News the bricks belonged to her.

Submitted

Lopez said a customer who builds patios offered to give her some extra bricks. He dropped them off on Tuesday, and she took most of them to her house. A couple of pallets remained on the sidewalk. On Tuesday, the police visited her business to ask about them.

"The police came by and I explained the story. They asked if they could drive to my house to confirm the bricks were there," she said. "I think people keep asking me about the bricks as well because of the protests. People think I left them behind so we could throw them later, but no, this was all just a big misunderstanding."

Lopez said she plans to build a patio with the bricks.

Additional reporting by Adolfo Flores.

14. A video of an NYPD officer in Brooklyn removing blue bins filled with of stones has been linked to Antifa without evidence. Vice reported that the stones were located in an area "where no protests, looting or rioting actually occurred." The local city councillor also said the stones were "construction debris" from a nearby site.

Twitter / Via Twitter: @JackKaplanNY

When contacted for comment, the NYPD declined to comment specifically on the video.

This is in my district. I went to the site. This construction debris was left near a construction site on Ave X in Gravesend. Could be evidence of a developer breaking law since phase 1 hasn’t begun, but there was no evidence of organized looting on X last night that I’m aware of https://t.co/oTEn0wMzAR


15. The White House tweeted a video that includes footage of some of the palettes of bricks investigated in this post. The video misleadingly claims bricks found in Sherman Oaks, New York, and Fayetteville were "staged." It also links this to "antifa and professional anarchists" without evidence. The White House later deleted the video.

Twitter / @WhiteHouse


16. Twitter users shared photos of palettes of bricks located at the corner of Van Buren and 3rd Ave. in downtown Phoenix, with some expressing concern. But images from Google Streetview show the bricks were there long before the protests.

Twitter / @Mack_daddi

This Google Streetview image was captured in February and shows palettes of bricks in the same location.

Google Streetview / Via google.com!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sms_UuHlsi1Z7-A80d2GGKw!2e0!5s20200201T000000!7i16384!8i8192

17. Kevin McCashion, a radio host in Troy, NY, shared an image of bricks and other construction materials, which caused some to raise concerns about them placed for protestors. He told BuzzFeed News he shared the photo to "parody" the fear spreading on social media about bricks.

Facebook / Kevin McCashion / Via Facebook: kevin.mccashion

McCashion has also tweeted jokes about bricks.

Jeffrey Buell of Redburn Development Partners, a property development company that works in the area, told BuzzFeed News the bricks are associated with an ongoing construction project.

"The bricks have been there for months," he said. "Sorry to kill the conspiracy."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

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