In summer 2020, rumours were spread across the California counties of Shasta and Humboldt, claiming that “Antifa buses” with some 200 “domestic terrorists” aboard had been trying to “infiltrate” the California city of Redding.
Police departments in northern California appeared to launch aircraft surveillance and chase so-called Antifa buses that did not exist, apparently falling for social media ‘misinformation’ in the summer of 2020, The Guardian reported Monday, citing public records.
The chase for the non-existent Antifa buses appeared to have been started by an Instagram story shared in June 2020, reading: “BE AWARE … I have heard, from a reliable source, that ANTIFA buses with close to 200 people (domestic terrorists) are planning to infiltrate Redding and possibly cause distraction and destruction,” the social media post read.
It was reportedly followed by a Facebook post claiming that buses with protesters that were planning to “riot” had stopped in Klamath Falls in southern Oregon, “but there was no rioting or burning as they decided to move on”.
A California Highway Patrol sergeant then warned a listserv of commanders that “possible ANTIFA buses [are] heading to Redding”, with police later launching aircraft surveillance looking for the buses. Then, according to The Guardian, the sheriff of nearby Humboldt county, William Honsal, shared the claims with his entire staff, saying, “BOL [be on the lookout] for ANTIFA buses from Oregon.”
The report, referring to the public records obtained via Property of the People, said that the actions of the local authorities fueled “misinformation” as the country was shaken by massive protests against police brutality and police racism following the death of George Floyd. Antifa conspiracy theories have also reportedly prompted armed right-wing domestic terrorists to “organize in response”.
On 4 June 2020, Honsal, according to Times Standard, claimed that “Antifa was here this weekend”.
The sheriff also appeared to refer to what he described as “substantiated law enforcement reports”.
According to The Guardian, citing a CHP spokesperson, aircraft surveillance launched by law enforcement did not identify any Antifa buses.