Post Uses Altered Photo to Impugn Klobuchar’s Comments on Slain First Responders

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Quick Take

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar posted condolences and support for two police officers and a firefighter killed Feb. 18 while responding to a domestic incident. A post on social media uses an altered photo to falsely claim Klobuchar previously attended a meeting with people holding “DEFUND THE POLICE” signs. The original image shows the people were not holding any such signs.


Full Story

Two police officers and a firefighter were shot to death on Feb. 18 while responding to reports of a man armed and barricaded with his seven children in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville, Minnesota. Authorities identified the first responders as Officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, both 27, and Adam Finseth, 40, a firefighter and paramedic. The suspect, Shannon Gooden, 38, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Associated Press reported.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota released a statement on Feb. 18 about the deaths of the first responders, and posted their photos on Facebook. She wrote: “Attended vigil in Burnsville last night with hundreds of community members to honor Paul Elmstrand, Matthew Ruge, and Adam Finseth. They answered the call of duty and now it’s our time to support them.”

But a Feb. 19 post on Facebook juxtaposes screenshots of Klobuchar’s social media posts supporting the first responders with an altered photo showing Klobuchar, circled in red, and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison with a group of people holding signs that read “DEFUND THE POLICE.” Text at the top of the Facebook post asks, “… which is it Amy Klobuchar????? You never let a tragedy go to waste.”

The photo shown on that Facebook post has been digitally altered.

The original image was posted on Oct. 16, 2022, by Ellison on X. On that post, Ellison wrote: “Minnesotans are fired up to elect DFLers up & down the ballot who will protect their personal freedoms, make sure they take home every $ they earn, protect them from corporate fraud, and protect our multiracial democracy. Let’s build a MN where everybody counts, everybody matters.” (DFL refers to the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which was established in 1944.)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar attends a Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party event in 2022.

The crowd in the original photo are not holding signs, and Ellison’s post makes no mention of “defunding the police.”

Ellison was appointed by Gov. Tim Walz to lead the 2021 prosecution of Derek Chauvin and three other former police officers for the death of George Floyd, which had sparked calls from some protesters to defund the police.

Brian Evans, a spokesperson for Ellison’s office, told us in Feb. 21 email, “I can confirm that the photo of Attorney General Ellison speaking in front of a crowd of people holding defund the police signs is digitally altered.”

“While the photo itself is fake, the idea it puts forward is false as well. Attorney General Ellison does not and has never supported defunding the police,” Evans said. “What Keith Ellison has done is support the work of law enforcement as Minnesota’s Attorney General while also bringing people together to find ways to reduce the use of deadly force during encounters with law enforcement.” 

At a 2022 Senate judiciary committee hearing on violence against police, Klobuchar said policing practices should be reformed, the Minnesota Reformer reported. “One of the focuses has got to be … reforming some of the practices, but at the same time funding the police,” Klobuchar said.

Update, Feb. 21: After we posted our article, a spokesperson for Klobuchar emailed us this response on Feb. 21 to the social media post: “Senator Klobuchar strongly and publicly opposed the defund the police measure in Minnesota, has repeatedly made clear she opposes defunding the police, and is in fact the longtime lead author of the bipartisan bill in Congress which funds police.”


Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

CBS News. “Attorney General Keith Ellison To Lead Prosecution Of George Floyd’s Death.” 31 May 2020.

Ellison, Keith. @keithellison “Minnesotans are fired up to elect DFLers up & down the ballot who will protect their personal freedoms, make sure they take home every $ they earn, protect them from corporate fraud, and protect our multiracial democracy. Let’s build a MN where everybody counts, everybody matters.” 16 Oct 2022.

Evans, Brian. Spokesperson, Office of the Minnesota Attorney General. Email to FactCheck.org. 21 Feb 2024.

Fischler, Jacob. “‘Defund the police’ slogan and anti-cop violence debated at U.S. Senate hearing.” Minnesota Reformer. 26 Jul 2022.

Karnowski, Steve. “A shaken Minnesota community gets some answers on the killings of 2 officers and 1 firefighter.” Associated Press. 20 Feb 2024.

Klobuchar, Amy. @amyklobuchar “Attended vigil in Burnsville last night with hundreds of community members to honor Paul Elmstrand, Matthew Ruge, and Adam Finseth. They answered the call of duty and now it’s our time to support them.” X. 21 Feb 2024.

Klobuchar, Amy. “Klobuchar Statement on Death of First Responders in Burnsville.” 18 Feb 2024.

Minnesota DFL. dfl.org/about. Accessed 21 Feb 2024.

Spears, Baylor. “Q&A with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on stopping police violence.” Wisconsin Examiner. 20 Oct 2023.


 

Reference

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