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An anonymously run Facebook page calling for a flag burning in Gettysburg has created a stir in the Hanover-Adams area.
“Left Behind USA” was started on June 2, 2020, and created an event calling for a “peaceful flag burning to resist police” in Gettysburg on July 4.
The page and event were visible to the public through Wednesday evening. However, on Thursday morning, a message from Facebook appeared, stating that the content isn’t available and that “the link may have expired, or the Page may only be visible to an audience that you aren’t in.”
When reached Thursday afternoon, a Facebook company spokesperson told the Evening Sun that the “Event Page was removed when we disabled the account behind it for breaking our rules against maintaining more than one Facebook account.”
The company said it is continuing to look into the situation.
The event had called for supporters to show up to the National Cemetery to “protest police violence against unarmed black civilians” and claimed that the U.S. flag, Confederate flag and Blue Lives Matter flags would be burned. The post also stated that supporters would be “legally armed.”
Although the event asked for people to physically show up in Gettysburg, the details listed it as an “online event,” with over 250 people responding as “going” and 800 more “interested.”
In response, thousands of people flooded the page with comments condemning the page and its posts. Some even created counter-events on Facebook, with at least three separate groups planning to organize and show up in Gettysburg on July 4.
A Twitter account that used the same name and posted similar messages as the “Left Behind USA” Facebook account was suspended by that social media platform on Wednesday for violating the site’s rules.
Later that evening, Gettysburg Borough and regional public safety agencies released a statement addressing the social media posts.
“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,” stated Gettysburg Borough Police Chief Robert Glenny Jr.
A spokesperson for the Gettysburg National Military Park said on Thursday that the Park had received their first permit application for July 4. The application is for a table to hand out literature on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The current social media-fueled clash closely echoes events that played out almost exactly three years ago.
In early June 2017, a widely shared blog post alleged that “Antifa” had created a Facebook event declaring intentions to desecrate graves and burn Confederate flags at the Gettysburg battlefield on July 1, 2017. (The Anti-Defamation League defines “Antifa” as “a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements.”)
The Facebook event – and the anger that followed it – ripped through the online platform, eventually leading hundreds of people from groups including Real 3% Risen, Sons of Confederate Veterans Mechanized Cavalry and Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans to show up to the battlefield on July 1 for a “free speech rally” to counter any Antifa supporters.
No identifiable members of Antifa showed up that day. No flags were burned, and no graves were desecrated. The only reported incidence of violence occurred when a 23-year-old Shippensburg man attending the rally accidentally shot himself in the thigh with a revolver.
Days before the event, representatives from a group called “Central PA Antifa” denied they had any involvement and said the rumors stemmed from a fake Facebook page that was impersonating the organization.
“This page is not run by antifascists but by alt-right trolls attempting to discredit Antifa, create confusion, and attempt to stir violence,” the group said in an email to the Evening Sun.
This article was updated at 6:15 p.m. Thursday to update statements from the Gettysburg National Military Park.
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