This Is The Hashtag Racists Use To Falsely Accuse Black People Of Looting

The "lootcrew" trolls pop up on Twitter to make false and racist claims about looting.

When violent unrest broke out in Milwaukee after the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith, Twitter became filled with tweets using the #MilwaukeeLootCrew hashtag to talk about looting, or to share photos of allegedly stolen goods.

Twitter / BuzzFeed

Tweets using the hashtag often included overtly racist messages from troll accounts:

@CantBeStumped / Twitter / Via Twitter: @CantBeStumped

That hashtag and the false and racist messages is the latest incarnation of a long-running hoax used by trolls to spread negative stereotypes about black people, and Black Lives Matter in particular.

"Lootcrew" started in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy, when a group of online trolls called the Gay Nigger Association of America (GNAA) used #SandyLootCrew for tweets like these:

Twitter / BuzzFeed

The image on the left is from a 2005 post to an online bulletin board; the image on the right has also been online since at least 2005.

Those and other tweets were treated as real in articles by the Daily Mail and InfoWars.


In an interview with The New York Observer, a person claiming to be part of GNAA said their goal was to show how easy it is to fool the media.

“We all had a good laugh when The Daily Mail picked up the story,” said "Leon Kaiser." “We’re a trolling group all the way; we did this strictly to point out how easy it is to manipulate the media.”

He didn't have any concerns about the fact that their tweets also propagated racist views about black people.

Lootcrew was quiet for a while but came back in force when riots broke out in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray. Soon the #BaltimoreLootCrew hashtag appeared and people began sharing images that had nothing to do with Baltimore.

@TopGoy / Twitter / Via Twitter: @TopGoy

The above image is from 2013.

They came out in full force with the #FergusonLootCrew hashtag in August 2015 when riots occurred on the one year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by police.

@ManahawkinMikey / Twitter / Via Twitter: @ManahawkinMikey

November 2015 also saw #MizzouLootCrew used when the University of Missouri was the scene of protests over reported racial discrimination on campus:

@blitzburgh / Twitter / Via Twitter: @blitzburgh75

This account sent racist messages using that hashtag.

@Ricky_Vaughn99 / Twitter / Via Twitter: @Ricky_Vaughn99

Today the account mostly tweets about the AltRight and Donald Trump.

@Ricky_Vaughn99 / Twitter / Via Twitter: @Ricky_Vaughn99

The lootcrew hoax sometimes intersects with another troll tactic with roots on 4chan/8chan. As previously reported by BuzzFeed News, whenever there is a mass shooting trolls go on Twitter and falsely point the finger at a comedian named Sam Hyde.


When the unrest started in Milwaukee, this account tweeted a photo of Hyde with the #MilwaukeeLootCrew hashtag. The Twitter user said he was about to steal Hyde's car. The tweet received hundred of retweets.

@eracistgoku / Twitter / Via Twitter: @racistgoku

The account later joked about the tweet being treated as real by the Drudge Report and a local news organization.

@eracistgoku / Twitter / Via Twitter: @racistgoku

So remember: anytime you see a hashtag with lootcrew in it, the photos and claims are almost certainly false.



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.