FACT CHECK: Were 7 Antifa Members Arrested In Medford, Oregon For Starting The Wildfires?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims seven antifa activists were arrested in Medford, Oregon for starting the wildfires.

Verdict: False

The Medford Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office debunked the claim. The FBI office in Portland said rumors that “extremists” started the wildfires in Oregon are “untrue.”

Fact Check: 

Misinformation has in recent days circulated about the origins of the wildfires raging on the West Coast. This particular Facebook post claims seven antifa activists were arrested in Medford for starting the fires in Oregon.

“7 antifa members in custody for starting the fires,” reads the post. “Police scanner Medford.”

The Medford Police Department debunked the claim that it had arrested people affiliated with antifa for arson on Sept. 9. The department said in a Facebook post, “We did not arrest this person for arson, nor anyone affiliated with Antifa or ‘Proud Boys’ as we’ve heard throughout the day. Also, no confirmed gatherings of Antifa which has also been reported.”

“There was an arrest for arson and there is no information the suspect has any connections to Antifa or Proud Boys which has also been falsely reported,” Lt. Mike Budreau of the Medford Police Department said in an email to Check Your Fact Monday.

Oregon Live reported on Sept. 11 that an Oregon man, identified by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as Michael Jarrod Bakkela, was arrested for allegedly setting a fire in Jackson County, where Medford is located. Police said the fire eventually merged with the Almeda Fire, according to ABC News.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office also told Check Your Fact in a Facebook direct message that the post’s claim is “false.” (RELATED: Did This Portland Radio Station Report That Suspected Antifa And Black Lives Matter Activists Shot At Firefighters?)

The FBI office in Portland said in a Sept. 11 statement on Twitter that claims that “extremists” are starting the Oregon wildfires are “untrue.”

“FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon. With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue,” reads the statement. “Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away from local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.”

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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