Facts are under assault in 2020.

We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact

More Info

I would like to contribute

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher September 14, 2020

Handel’s own ad disproves her claim that McBath backs ‘those who attack police’

If Your Time is short

  • Handel’s ad shows McBath participating in a rally against police misconduct and racism, where McBath marched alongside the local police chief.

In a rematch of a race that helped flip control of the U.S. House to Democrats, Republican Karen Handel accuses Georgia Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath of "supporting those who attack the police."

Handel makes the accusation in a TV ad. Handel lost the Atlanta-area seat to McBath in 2018.

The 6th District rematch is one of 18 pivotal House and Senate contests up for election on Nov. 3 that PolitiFact is tracking. 

The key scene in the ad shows McBath participating in a demonstration, where one marcher behind McBath holds a sign comparing police to the Ku Klux Klan. 

But the demonstration is against police misconduct, not against police — and McBath is shown marching alongside the local police chief.

A KKK reference in the ad

Handel served in the House from June 2017 to January 2019, after winning a special election to fill the remainder of the term of  Tom Price, who resigned to serve in the Trump administration. She is the former chairwoman of the Fulton County (Ga.) Commission and the former secretary of state of Georgia.

McBath became a gun-control advocate after the shooting death of her teen son in 2012. She defeated Handel in Handel’s bid for reelection in November 2018. 

Handel opens her ad, over video clips of violence, vandalism and fires in the streets, by saying: "Neighborhoods and businesses trashed. People attacked; police, demonized. It’s hit too close to home."

Then she appears on the screen and says: "Standing up for law enforcement used to be a bipartisan issue. Sadly, today, it’s not."

A clip of McBath holding a megaphone and marching with others in a street appears. Then the focus turns to a sign, held by someone behind and near McBath, with a message that compares police to the Ku Klux Klan. 

Featured Fact-check

"My opponent? She’s supporting those who attack the police, playing partisan politics and making things worse," Handel claims. "In our community, police officers have always had our back. In Congress, I’ll have theirs."

Handel’s evidence

The clip showing McBath and the sign is from a demonstration June 13 in Roswell, a suburb of Atlanta. An Atlanta Journal Constitution news story carried this headline: "Hundreds, including police chief, march in Roswell against misconduct." 

The main photo with the story shows the sign in the background with McBath walking and talking alongside Roswell Police Chief James Conroy, who told the demonstrators police agencies must change. Conroy has spoken about the need for accountability, racial tolerance and diversity in police departments. The AJC caption says hundreds of peaceful marchers joined in the march to protest racism and police brutality.

Asked to substantiate the claim that McBath is supporting those who attack the police, Handel’s campaign sent PolitiFact a statement that begins by saying: "McBath marched beside signs comparing the police to the KKK. She’s endorsed by groups and members of Congress who are vocal supporters of the defund the police movement — which, in our viewpoint, is an attack on police." 

But McBath can’t be held responsible for the actions of other people in a demonstration. And groups or members of Congress endorsing McBath is not the same as McBath supporting efforts to defund the police.

Beyond the ad, Handel’s campaign cited to PolitiFact votes cast by McBath, such as a vote favoring a bill that would require the release of certain prisoners deemed not to be a risk for violence and a vote against a bill that would have required a study of antifa. 

But neither vote amounts to an attack on police.

Our ruling

Handel claimed McBath "is supporting those who attack the police."

Handel’s TV ad, which shows McBath participating in a march, attempts to link McBath to a marcher holding a sign that compares police with the KKK.

But the march was to protest police misconduct and racism, and the ad itself shows that McBath marched alongside the local police chief.

We rate the statement False.

Our Sources

YouTube, Karen Handel ad, Aug. 24, 2020

Interview, Karen Handel campaign spokesman Brian Robinson, Sept. 3, 2020

Interview, Lucy McBath campaign spokesman Jake Orvis, Sept. 8, 2020

Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Hundreds, including police chief, march in Roswell against misconduct," June 13, 2020

U.S. House of Representatives, roll call on H.R. 6800, May 15, 2020

Breitbart, "House Democrats Block Funding for Police, Small Business Aid," Aug. 22, 2020

U.S. House of Representatives, amendment 2 roll call, June 17, 2020

U.S. House of Representatives, amendment 2, accessed Sept. 3, 2020

U.S. House of Representatives, collective bargaining limitations amendment, accessed Sept. 3, 2020

U.S. House of Representatives, collective bargaining limitations roll call, June 17, 2020

Roll Call, "House pitches justice system changes in new COVID-19 relief bill," May 12, 2020

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

Handel’s own ad disproves her claim that McBath backs ‘those who attack police’

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up