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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman February 25, 2019

No, Bernie Sanders didn't toss eggs at civil rights protesters. He was one of the protesters

A fake post on Facebook took an actual photograph of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 1960s and invented a story about what the image showed to make it appear that he was racist.

The black and white image shows a man being apprehended by two police officers.

"In 1963 Bernie Sanders was arrested for throwing eggs at black civil rights protestors. This is the side of Bernie that CNN and the fake news media don’t want you to know," stated a Facebook post by Republican Revival, a group that aims to "help Americans see through the Progressive Liberal bias."

Sanders, who recently announced he is running for president again, has faced questions about whether he can appeal to black voters more than he did in 2016. This time, the Vermont senator faces a more diverse Democratic primary field.

The post, published on Facebook on Feb. 20, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The photo is real, but the message about what Sanders was doing in the photo is made up. He was not throwing eggs at protesters — he was one of the protesters against school segregation.

The Chicago Tribune wrote a story in February 2016 about the photo after the newspaper found it in their archives. The Tribune confirmed with Sanders’ campaign that it was him.

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The Tribune wrote that Sanders, who at the time was a 21-year-old student at the University of Chicago, was arrested in August 1963 at a South Side protest over segregation. Sanders was charged with resisting arrest, found guilty and fined $25.

The protests that led to the arrest were over mobile classrooms dubbed "Willis Wagons," named for then-Chicago Schools Superintendent Benjamin Willis.

"Critics charged that the trailers kept black children in the area instead of sending them to white schools," the Tribune wrote.

A January 1964 Tribune story on the court cases of those who had been arrested in August identified a Bernard Sanders.

"Bernie identified it himself," Tad Devine, a senior adviser to the campaign, told the Tribune in 2016. "He looked at it — he actually has his student ID from the University of Chicago in his wallet — and he said, 'Yes, that indeed is (me).' "

We sent a message to Republican Rival on Facebook to ask if it had any evidence but did not get a reply.

The post said that "in 1963 Bernie Sanders was arrested for throwing eggs at black civil rights protestors." The photo was Sanders being arrested, as the Chicago Tribune confirmed. However, Sanders was protesting in favor of civil rights. There is no evidence that Sanders threw eggs at protesters.

We rate this statement Pants on Fire.

Our Sources

Republican Revival, Facebook post, Feb. 22, 2019

Chicago Tribune, Arrest photo of young activist Bernie Sanders emerges from Tribune archives, Feb. 22, 2016

Chicago Magazine, The Story Behind Bernie Sanders’s 1963 Arrest, March 15, 2016

Snopes, Bernie Sanders Civil Rights Photos Controversy, March 3, 2016

Washington Post The Fix, Bernie Sanders struggled to win black voters. It could be even more difficult in 2020, Feb. 19, 2019

New York Times, Bernie Sanders Stumbled With Black Voters in 2016. Can He Do Better in 2020? Feb. 17, 2019

Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign ad, Erica, 2016

CNN, Sanders' campaign airing Erica Garner ad in New York, April 5, 2016

Washington Post, How Bernie Sanders missed his chance to beat Hillary Clinton, June 6, 2016


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No, Bernie Sanders didn't toss eggs at civil rights protesters. He was one of the protesters

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