A bizarre episode has unfolded at one of the nation's most storied sites, with right-wing groups descending on the Gettysburg battlefield for no sound reason.
The commotion started in late June, with a mysterious Facebook event under the title "Left Behind USA," promising "peaceful flag burning to resist police" at the Gettysburg National Park on July 4.
A few Confederate flag bearers, self-proclaimed oath keepers, and various right-wing militias descended on the park on July 1, anticipating a clash that has yet to materialize.
—It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 4, 2020
—It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 1, 2020
Local news outlets and independent fact checkers have debunked the claim that Antifa — a decentralized, leaderless movement dedicated to combatting right-wing authoritarianism and white supremacy — was planning some sort of flag burning, and even the official Antifa chapter for Central Pennsylvania has denied any involvement.
"We are not even remotely involved," the Central PA Antifa chapter wrote in an email to the local Evening Sun newspaper. "Let them give each other COVID. We will be home with our families."
Local police issued a statement that avoided delving into any of the conspiracy claims.
"We want to assure those we serve that we are taking all precautions at our disposal to maintain the safety of all residents and visitors to the area as well as the protection of property to include businesses, homes, monuments, churches and other historical treasures located in the greater Gettysburg area," Gettysburg Borough Police Chief Robert Glenny Jr. wrote.
As of the afternoon of July 4th, local news outlets and observers on the ground had yet to report any kind of anti-fascist or flag burning presence on the grounds, but some of the right-wing protesters were still there.
In 2017, a similar episode unfolded when a hoax circulated about Civil War graves to be desecrated by Antifa, but nothing of the sort ever ended up happening.