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The Man Shown Arrested In A Recent Viral Video Is Not An FBI Agent

Claim

A tweet claims that two cops arrested a man not knowing he’s an undercover FBI agent. The tweet was posted with a video showing that a man was briefly detained by two police officers. 

https://twitter.com/RobertDeNiroUS/status/1267449152755118080

Examples of the same video were shared on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.

Factcheck

Since 25 May, 2020, the day George Floyd was brutally killed by a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck, protests are being held in different parts of the United States as well as other parts of the world. 

Amid these racial inequality protests held worldwide, a video claiming that two cops arrested a man not knowing he’s an undercover FBI agent has gone viral. The video shows a man wearing a red T-shirt being hand-cuffed by two policemen. The man being arrested is seen asking multiple questions to the cops and saying, “you’re assuming I am someone I’m not,” while being searched for an ID inside his wallet. 

We came across multiple posts on social media with the same video (plus another video or an extended version of the same) claiming that the man being arrested is an FBI agent. 

Using Google Advanced Search, we found a statement released by Rochester, Minnesota Government Authority on 1 June, 2020 which explains the incident in the video and states that the video is actually one-year-old. According to this statement, the incident took place in Rochester, Minnesota in June, 2019. At the time, “the officers believed they recognized a person known to have an arrest warrant for assault.” In their defense, the individual appeared to have the same height, weight, etc as their suspect and therefore approached him. But during the brief detention, they located his identification and found that he was not the individual they had an arrest warrant for. After which he was released. The statement also read, “contrary to social media rumors, the individual was not a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent.” 

Through a relevant keyword search, we found an Instagram post by the name thisisnike1 which claimed that this video was shot in Minnesota, 2019. The video included in this post shows the same man wearing a red T-shirt and being briefly detained by two police officers. Accompanied with the hashtag #BeingBlackInWhiteAmerica this post was viewed over 500K times with nearly 38,000 likes at the time of writing this factcheck. 

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CA03U0UngfG/?igshid=13ssdfdxrn68e

We found the below video posted on Youtube by an account with the name Nikee Lado on 31 May, 2020. The description of the video was almost the same as the one on Instagram claiming the video to be a year old. 

Searching for posts on social media we also came across Rebecca Kavanagh, a Criminal Defense and Civil Rights attorney’s Twitter post which debunks this claim stating that the video is indeed a year old and the man being arrested is not an FBI agent. 

Other fact-checkers have also debunked this viral claim. 

Conclusion

The statement by Rochester, Minnesota government authority and the social media posts make it clear that the man detained by two police officers as shown in the video is not an FBI agent. 

Tools Used 

  • Twitter advanced search
  • Facebook
  • Advanced Google search
  • Youtube 
  • Instagram

Result: False 

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Nikita Vashisth
Nikita is a writer and editor for English fact-checking. She also leads projects to understand the misinformation and fake-news ecosystem—with an emphasis on data and psychology. Previously, she has worked with IndiaSpend, CNN-News18 and written for Citizen Matters and Mongabay-India on the environment, health, and politics. She’s a postgraduate of the Computational Journalism program at Cardiff University, Wales.

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