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Viral video of Pueblo fight warps into right-wing ‘propaganda’

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Brandon Apodaca
Photo from a video by Brandon Apodaca

According to large online conservative news outlets like The Blaze and Red State, it was a member of Antifa blocking traffic in a political protest that was seen in a viral video being thrown down and punched by an SUV driver last week in Pueblo.

But that's not what happened, according to the Pueblo Police Department, and Sgt. Frank Ortega says there's concern about the video being used as "propaganda."

We first reported on the altercation last Friday. The video, seen above, was shared online Thursday by Brandon Apodaca and seen by thousands of people. It happened right in front of the Pueblo Judicial Building.

Pueblo police tell us that the man seen in the SUV reached out to the department after seeing our story, and he gave officers a statement about what happened.

At this point, no charges have been filed against the driver of the SUV, who can be seen accelerating slowly into the pedestrian before throwing him to the ground and punching him several times. The driver said he had "two to three" conversations with the masked man before things escalated.

According to Pueblo police, the driver told officers the altercation started because the masked pedestrian was blocking drivers from turning west onto 4th Street if they weren't using a turn signal.

So, in a way, the pedestrian was protesting -- but the video got picked up by so-called conservative outlets to push a warped narrative.

"They are positioning the video and putting it into the context that supports their cause, their mission, and their propaganda. It is unfortunate they are using video that is locally from here," said Sgt. Ortega.

The video was shared to the website LiveLeak under the headline "Brave Antifa Blocks Car Angry Man Knocks Him Out" and that video got picked up by Twitter user BasedPoland, which apparently advocates for the National Conservative Western Alliance. That post wrote: "Antifa/Extinction Rebellion protester tries to block a street and then starts vandalizing a man's SUV."

BasedPoland's post went viral in online conservative circles, and eventually, it was picked up for articles by The Blaze and RedState, which identify themselves as "one of the nation's largest independent media companies" and "the most widely read right of center site on Capitol Hill," respectively. Those articles were then picked up by conservative newsletters and aggregators.

  • "An Antifa Member Tries to Block a Car and Assault Someone, It Doesn’t Go Well (Seriously)," wrote RedState.
  • "Alleged Antifa member attempts to block road, smash someone's SUV — but he picked the wrong guy to mess with," wrote The Blaze.

We've reached out to editors with The Blaze and RedState for comment.

Neither article contains information about when or where the altercation takes place. The Blaze describes the masked man in the video as an "alleged Antifa member" while RedState outright proclaims that the man is an Antifa protester. The articles' authors tied the video to recent incidents where Antifa members blocked traffic during protests in Europe and in cities Portland, Oregon.

But if the SUV driver's statement to police is accurate, the only protest taking place was one against bad traffic habits.

Police tell us they haven't yet spoken with the masked man. It's unclear if charges may be filed based on new information coming to light.

Article Topic Follows: News

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