FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims To Show Barack Obama In A Black Panther Uniform

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 14,000 times allegedly shows former President Barack Obama wearing a Black Panther uniform and wielding a gun in 1998.

Verdict: False

The image has been digitally altered. The real photo actually shows two black men posing in front of a New Black Panther Party flag.

Fact Check:

An image falsely alleges in a post that Obama is pictured donning a Black Panther uniform and brandishing a pistol in 1998, 10 years before he became the first black president. It has been shared more than 14,000 times on Facebook. (RELATED: Did Barack Obama Tweet, ‘Ask Ukraine If They Found My Birth Certificate’?)

“Taken in 1998. Just 10 short years before becoming president,” reads the caption. “Pease (sic) share this photo of him holding a gun and dressed in a Black Panther uniform. COPY AND SHARE THIS!!! IT WILL BE PULLED DOWN SOON!!!! SO SHARE IT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!!”

Through a reverse image search, the Daily Caller discovered that Obama’s head has been superimposed onto another man’s head. The real image actually shows two men posing with a flag of the New Black Panther Party, a black nationalist group that’s unaffiliated with the Black Panthers. A time stamp in the bottom-right corner suggests that the photo was taken sometime in 1998.

The Daily Mail included the undoctored version of picture in an article about Maruse Heath, a former leader of Philadelphia’s New Black Panther Party chapter. Heath, who also goes by King Samir Shabazz, got arrested on a gun possession charge in 2013, according to the article.

“At his arraignment Heath’s (pictured left) lawyer told the court that the New Black Panther party is not a violent group, but instead is a vehicle for community service,” reads the Daily Mail’s caption of the photo.

Heath has been cropped out of the doctored version going viral on Facebook. The identity of the man whose face Obama’s likeness has been superimposed onto is unknown.

The photoshopped image has been circulating on Facebook since at least 2009, according to Snopes.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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