President Donald Trump’s latest Facebook ad campaign uses a photo of protesters clashing with police, and suggests there will be “chaos and violence” if the president isn’t re-elected in November. Facebook users who see the new ad will probably assume the photo was taken in the United States sometime this year. In reality, the photo is from Ukraine. In 2014, no less.
The photo, which shows a cop on the ground and a protester trying to grab their baton, can be found on the Wikipedia page for the Ukrainian Revolution in 2014 and was taken by photojournalist Mstyslav Chernov. The image was distributed under a Creative Commons 3.0 license, allowing anyone to use it as long as credit is given to the photographer. The Trump campaign did not credit the photographer.
The new Facebook ad features the words “Public Safety vs Chaos and Violence” with a photo of President Trump and unnamed police officials above the words “public safety” and a photo of the Ukrainian protesters under “chaos and violence.” Ukraine’s region of Crimea was annexed by Russia on February 20, 2014, just two days after this photo was taken on February 18.
The ad never explicitly says that the photo of violence is supposed to represent the U.S., but again, that will be everyone’s obvious assumption, given the current uprising that’s happening in places like Portland, Oregon.
Several different versions of the new Facebook ad are being run, and strangely they seem to have accompanying text that focuses on the issue of abortion. The ad appears to be running most prominently for users in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, and Texas, based on information available at Facebook’s Ad Library.
The Trump ad is tagged with a logo for “Evangelicals for Trump,” a religious group that Trump has been losing steam with over the past year. Evangelicals used to be Trump’s most reliable supporters, but that seems to be changing quickly. Back in March, roughly 80% of white Evangelicals said they approved of the job President Trump was doing, according to a poll from PRRI. That number had slipped to just 62% in June during the protests over police killing of George Floyd and subsequent nationwide protests.
The Trump campaign has been spending millions on Facebook ads, many of which are problematic for any number of reasons. In one, Trump uses a racial slur to refer to Elizabeth Warren. In another, the Trump campaign used music without getting permission from the copyright holder. And in another, Trump used an old photo of a peaceful May Day protest to accuse random people of being “antifa,” the leaderless anti-fascist movement.
And that’s to say nothing of the literal Nazi symbols the Trump campaign has used in Facebook ads. The social media company pulled the ads after significant public outcry.
What do American protests actually look like right now? It looks like nameless secret police snatching protesters from the streets as a “proactive” measure against people who’ve been accused of no crime, something that’s clearly unconstitutional. And people in mainstream news outlets are finally starting to use the F-word: fascism.
Trump regime officials have promised to bring the same tactics that they’re currently using in Portland to other cities like Chicago soon. And if reports about troops massing in Chicago are true, it’s going to get so much more fascist in the coming weeks.