President Donald Trump repeated a debunked lie that he told on Fox News on Aug. 31 about an “entire plane filed up with looters, anarchists, rioters” (who were supposedly going to disrupt the Republican National Convention last week):
A person was on a plane, said there were about 6 people like that person, more or less, and what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, rioters, people looking for trouble. The person felt very uncomfortable on the plane.
NBC News reports this conspiracy theory began on Facebook on June 1:
The claim about the flight matches a viral Facebook post from June 1 that falsely claimed, “At least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black.” The post, by an Emmett, Idaho, man, warned residents to “Be ready for attacks downtown and residential areas,” and claimed one passenger had “a tattoo that said Antifa America on his arm.”
That post was shared over 3,000 times on Facebook, and other pages from Idaho quickly added their own spin to it, like the Idaho branch of the far-right militia group 3 Percenters.
One post claimed that “Antifa has sent a plane load of their people” and that the Payette County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it. Within days, that version of the rumor picked up enough steam in Idaho Facebook groups that the Payette County Sheriff’s Office had to release a statement insisting that the viral rumor was “false information.”