What to learn about protest and Antifa rumors

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What to know about protest and Antifa rumors

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Union soldier reenactors of the 156th Battle of Gettysburg Anniversary impart their historical knowledge on Friday.

The Evening Sun

Rumors of potential violence and discord — flag burning, desecration of statues, counter-protests — in Gettysburg on July 4 have been rampant on social media in recent weeks. 

Here’s what we know heading into the holiday weekend: 

Facebook page calling for flag burning protest removed

“Left Behind USA” was started on June 2, 2020, and created an event calling for a “peaceful flag burning to resist police” in Gettysburg on July 4.

The page and event were visible to the public through June 24. However, on June 25, a message from Facebook appeared, stating that the content wasn’t available and that “the link may have expired, or the page may only be visible to an audience that you aren’t in.” 

The event had called for supporters to show up to the National Cemetery to “protest police violence against unarmed black civilians” and claimed that the U.S. flag, Confederate flag and Blue Lives Matter flag would be burned. The post also stated that supporters would be “legally armed” and offered face-painting for children. 

Many who shared the event on Facebook attributed it to Antifa members. 

More: Facebook page behind ‘flag burning’ taken down; no permit for Gettysburg event

More: Gettysburg National Military Park provides free virtual battle tours

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18. State of Maryland monument was dedicated in 1994 and depicts two wounded Marylanders, one Union and one Confederate, helping each other on the battlefield. A list the Maryland commands of both armies that fought at Gettysburg is presented on a tablet on the back of the monument.

Location: Along Cyclorama Drive directly off of Taneytown Road. 39.816397, -77.232416 (Photo: Dan Rainville, The Evening Sun)

Central PA Antifa denies involvement: ‘It’s a right-wing hoax’

A representative from Central PA Antifa denied involvement in the flag burning event. 

“It’s a right wing hoax like last time (in 2017),” the group wrote in an email on July 1. “For whatever reason, they like to stir each other up for no reason. Everyone is looking for a war I guess. Last time, they shot themselves. Hopefully that happens again.

“We are not even remotely involved. Let them give each other COVID. We will be home with our families.”

2017: Shippensburg man accidentally shoots himself in leg at Gettysburg National Military Park

2017: Gettysburg National Military Park remains calm despite protests

Gettysburg police, GNMP officials respond to rumors 

In response to the flag burning event and the subsequent social media furor around it, Gettysburg Borough Police Chief Robert Glenny Jr. issued the following statement: 

“We want to assure those we serve that we are taking all precautions at our disposal to maintain the safety of all residents and visitors to the area as well as the protection of property to include businesses, homes, monuments, churches and other historical treasures located in the greater Gettysburg area.”

A statement on the Gettysburg National Military Park website indicates staff “continue to maintain open and frequent communications with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to stay up-to-date on the latest intelligence.”

More recently, a lengthy post on Facebook indicated that Gettysburg police had confirmed an “Antifa plan” for July 4. Police wrote in another Facebook post that this was not true.  

“This and similar posts are being analyzed by various intelligence sections in the law enforcement community. We asked that folks remain vigilant. Please contact the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in your area to report any suspicious activity or things you feel are out of place.”

More: Trump vows to issue executive order protecting statues, says it would ‘reinforce’ current law

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Two permits issued for Gettysburg National Military Park

Park officials have received two permit applications for July 4. Both are for groups of five to six people, according to Jason Martz, the public affairs officer for Gettysburg National Military Park.

One application is for a table to hand out literature on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The other group will be talking about the history of slavery. Both groups will have space set up in a field on what was Gen. Meade’s headquarters on Taneytown Road, south of the National Cemetery. 

More: Gettysburg park officials: Confederate monuments here to stay

More: Do Confederate monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield deserve scrutiny?

No signs of the National Guard

The National Guard has been activated to guard statues in D.C. and other cities, but Martz was not aware of that happening in Gettysburg this weekend. 

Several requests were not answered, asking for comment from the White House and Department of Homeland Security. 

Gettysburg fireworks display still set for Saturday

Destination Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority will host Fourth of July Community Fireworks at 9:20 p.m. July 4 at the Gettysburg Area Recreation Park on Breckenridge Street.

Those attending must wear masks and socially distance. Viewing the show is free, but onsite parking will be available for $2 per car. They will also be live-streaming the show on the Destination Gettysburg Facebook page.

Evening Sun photographer Dan Rainville contributed to this report. 

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