False claims target Baltimore mayor following bridge collapse

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott defended his administration following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and said he would push back against "those who are racist." But social media posts claiming the Democrat was attacking white people are false; he made no such comments in interviews with US media.

"Nothing to see here… just the Mayor of Baltimore threatening White people," says a March 28, 2024 X post from the account Libs of TikTok.

The anti-LGBTQ page, which AFP has previously fact-checked for spreading misinformation, quotes Scott as saying: "They should be afraid because that's my purpose in life."

Similar posts elsewhere on X, Facebook, TikTok and on websites suggest Scott – who was subject to racist attacks in the days following the bridge disaster – was responding by threatening white people.

Screenshot of an X post taken April 3, 2024

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed March 26 after the Singapore-flagged Dali container ship rammed into it, blocking one of the busiest US commercial harbors. Emergency teams rescued two members of an eight-man construction crew that had been repairing potholes on the bridge when it fell, while the other six are presumed dead.

The tragedy sparked conspiracy theories blaming the crash on corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives that have become a flashpoint ahead of the US presidential election. Some social media users have called Scott, who is Black, Baltimore's "DEI" mayor -- among other blatant remarks.

Posts accusing him of threatening white people are false.

The clip shared online stems from a March 27 episode of MSNBC's "The ReidOut," which addressed racist attacks against the mayor (archived here).

The full clip makes clear that Scott did not threaten white people. Instead, he said he opposes "those who are racist and think that only straight, wealthy, white men should have a say in anything." 

Here are Scott's full remarks, with the part shared online in bold:

"Listen, I know, and we all know, and you know very well that Black men, and young Black men in particular, have been the bogeyman for those who are racist and think that only straight, wealthy, white men should have a say in anything.
"We've been the bogeyman for them since the first day they brought us to this country. And what they mean by DEI, in my opinion, is duly elected incumbent. 
"We know what they want to say, but they don't have the courage to say the N-word and the fact that I don’t believe in their untruthful and wrong ideology. And I'm very proud of my heritage, and who I am and where I come from scares them. Because me being at my position means that their way of thinking, their way of life -- of being comfortable while everyone else suffers -- is going to be at risk. And they should be afraid, because that's my purpose in life."

Scott offered similar comments during a March 31 appearance on CBS News' "Face the Nation" (archived here).

"Listen, we know that there are a lot of racists and folks who don't think I should be in this job, I know that. I have been Black my whole life. I know how racists and racism goes in this country," he said.

"But my focus is always going to be on those people (affected by the bridge collapse). I didn't want to be out there that night asking -- answering questions about DEI. I'm worried about the loss of life."

AFP has debunked other misinformation about the Baltimore bridge collapse hereherehere, here and here.

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