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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke June 8, 2020

Photo showing damaged Lincoln Memorial by graffiti was doctored

If Your Time is short

  • This photo is not real. 
  • Someone put graffiti on a wall in front of the Lincoln Memorial but it was far from the statue at street level.

Some demonstrators have caused damage in cities across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, but an image of a battered Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C. isn’t authentic. 

"The Lincoln Memorial," reads the text below an image of the statue covered in graffiti, a chunk missing from the side of his head. "His head (is) damaged and defaced. The media is trying to hide this picture from you. Democrats are saying riots and lawlessness is necessary for change. If this doesn’t piss you off, I have nothing else to say." 

Among the words visible on the memorial: "#BLM," "Black + Brown Lives Matter," "Stop killing" and "Trayvon," the first name of Travyon Martin, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain in 2012. 

This image, which is being shared widely on Facebook, 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.) 

Fox News, CNN and the Washington Times, among others, covered damage to the Lincoln Memorial. But news outlets said it was limited to the words "Y’all not tired yet?" spray painted in black on a wall in front of the memorial, down the stairs from Lincoln’s likeness.

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On May 31, an arm of the National Park Service that takes care of the Lincoln Memorial tweeted an image of the damage, saying, "In the wake of last night’s demonstrations, there are numerous instances of vandalism to sites around the National Mall. For generations the Mall has been our nation’s premier civic gathering space for non-violent demonstrations and we ask individuals to carry on that tradition."  

On June 4, the account retweeted Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who tweeted a cleaned-up memorial and said; "Thank you! Great work by @NatlParkService facility maintenance staff who have restored these iconic and historic places."

Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the National Mall and Memorial Parks told PolitiFact in an email that the photo in the Facebook post is a hoax. 

"The only graffiti at the Lincoln Memorial was at the bottom of the steps at street level, far away from the statue (and it has been removed already)," he said.

We rate this Facebook post False.


Our Sources

Facebook post, June 6, 2020

Mother Jones, The Trayvon Martin killing, explained, March 18, 2012

Fox News, Vandals target historic monuments amid George Floyd protests, June 7, 2020

CNN, Famed DC monuments defaced after night of unrest, May 31, 2020

Washington Times, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial defaced by vandals in rioting, June 1, 2020

National Mall NPS tweet, May 31, 2020

David Bernhardt tweet, June 4, 2020

Email interview with Mike Litterst, chief of communications, National Mall and Memorial Parks, June 8, 2020


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Photo showing damaged Lincoln Memorial by graffiti was doctored

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