An Alabama man who took part in the violent riot in the U.S. Capitol last week posted on social media that he has falsely been accused of being part of antifa, a political movement known for its militant opposition to fascism and right-wing ideology.
Prosecutors presented William Watson’s Snapchat post in court Monday in a hearing to revoke the man’s bond on previous charges.
Watson, who is from Auburn, according to the Opelika-Auburn News, also appeared to blame “fake news” for identifying him as a left-wing activist.
It’s a variation on the “fake news” argument coined by President Donald Trump, an accusation he’s traditionally lobbed at news reports seen as favorable to liberals.
The Washington Times did incorrectly report last week that facial recognition software had been used to identify antifa members leading the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The publication has since said that information was incorrect and has issued an apology for the error.
But lawmakers and social media commenters across the nation have, without verifiable evidence, embraced the theory that antifa activists caused the violence.
In Watson’s case, conspiracy theorists honed in on a tattoo of his hand, saying it represented his tie to the group.
Fact checkers have pointed out that Watson’s tattoo is actually a symbol from the video game Dishonored 2.
The full text of Watson’s Snapchat message: “They wanna call me Antifa because I have a videogame tattoo on my hand and I was pleading for peaceful discourse. Let ‘em say what they will. The fake news won’t win against the thousands of patriots who recorded today.”
Watson can be seen in photos inside the Capitol building the day of the riots next to known QAnon conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Jake Angeli, who wore a fur hat with horns while shirtless, and a man waving a Trump flag and wearing a Trump hat. Angeli has also been falsely accused of belonging to Antifa.
Law enforcement were able to identify and apprehend Watson in part by comparing images of his participation at the Capitol riots with those from his personal social media accounts, according to court documents, though many of Watson’s accounts have since been deactivated including his Twitter, Instagram and Twitch.
Watson was previously arrested and charged July 2, 2020, for trafficking marijuana, trafficking LSD and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and police said he was in possession of over 2.2 pounds of marijuana and over 4 grams of LSD, according to court documents.
Though it is currently unknown what new charges Watson faces, acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said federal agents have already identified 170 individuals believed to have committed crimes at the Capitol, with 70 of those individuals having been charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.