FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show Italian Police Laying Down Their Equipment In Solidarity With People Protesting COVID-19 Restrictions?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims to show Italian police in Turin, Italy laying their shields and helmets on the ground “in sympathy with the protesters.”

Verdict: False

The image actually shows police in Thailand laying down their equipment to ease tension with protesters in 2013, not Italian police in 2021.

Fact Check:

The March 20 Facebook post includes an image showing dozens of police officers surrounding a street lined with police riot shields and helmets. The caption reads: “Police in Turin, Italy took off their helmets and shields and left them on the ground, in sympathy with the protesters.”

The Facebook post seems to be referencing the March 20 “No Mask No Vax” demonstration in Turin, Italy, which saw about 100 attendants, according to the Italian news outlet L’unione Sarda. (RELATED: Does This Video Show Police In Italy Showing Solidarity With Protesters In March 2021?)

The image, however, is not from the recent demonstration in Turin. Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found the image included in a 2013 article posted by Political Blind Spot bearing the headline “Police In Thailand Lay Down Vests and Barricades In Solidarity With Protestors.” According to the article, the police officers were yielding to peaceful protesters, despite being told to “harass and block” them.

The photo is also included in a 2013 report published by True Activist titled, “Police in Thailand Lay Down Weapons and Join with Protestors,” as well as a 2015 article from ScoopWhoop with a description that reads: ”This riot police team in Thailand who laid down their shield as a sign of solidarity for the protesters they were ordered to block.”

In late 2013, thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Bangkok to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration, according to CNN. After a couple of days of violent protesting, police in Bangkok attempted to ease tension with the protesters by standing down, lowering their shields, posing for photos with protesters and even opening the gates to the prime minister’s office, The New York Times reported. Footage of police embracing protesters amid the truce was shared on CNN’s YouTube channel.

Photos of Thai police using riot shields with the English word “Police” on them during the late 2013 anti-government protests can be seen on the stock photo website Alamy.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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