Old photo shows looters during Baltimore protests in 2015

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

An online post shared thousands of times purports to show people raiding a store during the George Floyd protests sweeping the United States. While the photo does capture looters in action, it was taken in 2015 amid protests following the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who fell into a coma while in police custody in Baltimore.

The image shows a group of people running out of what appears to be a shop with goods in their hands.

“Look at the pain and grief on all of their faces as they mourn the tragic loss of George Floyd,” the caption reads.

Screenshot taken on June 10, 2020 of the misleading Facebook post

The post has been shared more than 23,000 times on Facebook in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

It surfaced as protests against racism and police brutality erupted across the United States and abroad following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, suffocated after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, as shown in a horrifying video now seen by millions. 

While the protests have seen outbreaks of violence and looting, the post does not show what it claims.

A reverse image search of the picture on TinEye revealed that the photo has been circulating online since at least 2016.

A screenshot taken on June 10, 2020 of the image search on TinEye

The source, however, is a photo gallery on the Baltimore Sun's website from May 8, 2015, titled: “100 lasting images from the Freddie Gray protests and aftermath in Baltimore”.

The image, taken by Baltimore Sun photographer Jerry Jackson, is captioned: “Looters empty the CVS at Pennsylvania and North Ave during Monday’s riot.”

A screenshot taken on June 10, 2020 of the image on Baltimore Sun in 2015

An Google search for “CVS pharmacy looting Freddie Gray” for 2015 links to a CNN video report of the pharmacy looting on April 27, 2015. The pharmacy was set on fire on the same day and was only reopened in March 2016. 

AFP Fact Check confirmed the location of the photo using a Google Maps Street View captured before the looting, which shows the pharmacy's blue entrance and brick wall.

Comparison between Google Map Street View of the CVS pharmacy and the image published on Facebook

Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died on April 19, 2015, a week after suffering serious spinal injuries in a police van after being arrested by Baltimore officers. His arrest was captured on video and broadcast online, sparking rioting and looting in Baltimore.

AFP Fact Check has debunked dozens of claims related to George Floyd and the protests surrounding his death in recent weeks.

Tendai Dube