FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show US Protesters Destroying A Road?

Bradley Devlin | General Assignment & Analysis Reporter

An image shared on Facebook over 400 times purportedly shows U.S. protesters using pickaxes to destroy roads “in order to cause wrecks.”

Verdict: False

The picture shows people in South Africa damaging a road in protest against local water and electricity shortages.

Fact Check:

Text overlaying the image reads, “BE CAREFUL. NOW THEY’RE DESTROYING THE ROADS IN ORDER TO CAUSE WRECKS,” while the Facebook user that shared it remarks, “This is Terrorism!” The “they” the post refers to appears to be the individuals partaking in civil unrest occurring in many of America’s major cities alongside protests against police brutality. The demonstrations were sparked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

But the photo does not depict a scene from the United States. Rather, it shows a scene from South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Local media outlets in the country included the photo in their coverage of protests this week. Residents of the province destroyed portions of R33, the road that runs between Pomeroy and Dundee, with pickaxes and blocked segments of the road with stones to protest against water and electricity shortages in the area, according to a Sept. 23 report from South Africa’s News24. (RELATED: Does This Photo Show An Elderly Former Marine That Set Fire To An Antifa Activist’s Car?)

Tension in the area has increased over the past four years, according to TimesLIVE, as the region slowly recovers from a terrible drought in 2015 and continues to struggle with water use and supply, as further reported by Reuters. Residents of the Pomeroy area have submitted memorandums to the government demanding they be provided basic services, TimesLIVE reported. United Democratic Movement (UMD) provincial secretary Boyse Gumede said the issue had previously been raised with Human Rights Commission and the province’s Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, according to TimesLIVE, but went on to condemn the destruction of infrastructure that might worsen the community’s condition.

Umzinyathi Mayor Petros Mthandeni Ngubane has also spoken out against the damage and blamed Eskom — a South African electricity public utility company — for the shortages, as reported by News24.

Bradley Devlin

General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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