Cui Bono?

We live in a bizarre timeline.

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When I saw the AP headline “Bricks stored on DC street for pre-scheduled construction” on memeorandum, I was expecting a local news story about fears people would think the bricks were free for the taking and wondering why it had made a national news aggregator. Instead, I got this:

CLAIM: A photo shows pallets of bricks along a Washington, D.C., street that were intentionally placed in the area to encourage violent protesting after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The bricks were stored along the road for work on an unrelated construction project that had been planned months in advance and residents were notified about at least 10 days prior to Friday, the day the court released its decision, triggering protests. The ongoing alley paving project began Thursday and was scheduled to run through June 30, but those along the construction route were told by June 16 of the planned work in the area, according to District Department of Transportation records.

THE FACTS: Hours after the Supreme Court on Friday removed constitutional protections for abortion, false claims spread online resurfacing an old, misleading narrative that pallets of bricks were being intentionally placed in U.S. streets, with the suggestion that they were planted to incite violence during expected protests.

The idea previously circulated widely online during protests against racial injustice throughout the summer of 2020, and again in 2021 linked to protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Social media users pushed similar claims on Friday, sharing a photo of pallets of bricks located on a street in the U.S. capital.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican Congresswoman from Colorado, tweeted the image that night and named the Capitol Police, asking them “why are there 20 pallets of bricks one block from the House Office Buildings?” in a post that was shared nearly 14,000 times.

While Boebert didn’t ascribe a motive to the bricks’ placement, many commenting and sharing her message did — claiming they were purposefully placed there to incite or be used in rioting.

“Meanwhile, someone paid to haul pallets of bricks in and deposited them just 2 blocks from the Capitol offices?” wrote one user.

“It’s as if they want violence and riot,” commented another.

Look, we knew this decision was imminent and had been pretty sure for months what the outcome would be. The only real mystery was whether the Court would overrule Roe altogether or just take another bite out of it by saying the onerous restrictions that Mississippi had placed on abortion were less than an “undue burden.” And, of course, we had a leaked early draft of Alito’s opinion that all but removed that mystery.

Given that this has been a hot-button issue—almost certainly the most visceral issue in American politics—for almost half a century, there was bound to be a lot of anger. I would have been surprised had mass protests not been organized in advance.

But who the hell was going to plant piles of bricks? Even if there were leftist analogs to the Proud Boys such as the quasi-mythical Antifa, 20 pallets of bricks are going to get noticed if they’d done it. So who? Certainly not District authorities. Why would they want violence and mayhem in their city? To what end?

Boebert should be ashamed of herself for spreading this nonsense but, of course, she isn’t.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Projection, they see in others the rot in their own souls.

    10
  2. Jen says:

    It’s depressing that there are people dumb enough to believe this nonsense.

    3
  3. Mister Bluster says:

    Anyone who promotes this conspiracy theory must be…
    wait for it
    a brick shy of a load.

    10
  4. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    That’s giving them too much credit for self-awareness.

    3
  5. JohnSF says:

    When life hands you bricks, make bricolage.
    Or something like that…

    1
  6. CSK says:

    @JohnSF:
    Do you have any politicians who are as embarrassing as Boebert and Greene? I don’t count Johnson. He’s simply not in their league.

  7. Pete S says:

    @Jen:
    The distressing part is that Boebert probably believes this nonsense too. It would be better in a way if she were pandering to the hateful idiots but she seems to be a true believer

    1
  8. Kathy says:

    What I find incomprehensible, is how many of these conspiracy theories include something completely nonsensical at their heart.

    If you want a protest to trun violent, you stoke outrage and anger beforehand, like Benito did for months and up until January 6th.

    1
  9. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster: True story. We moved years ago. Company paid, so we had movers come in with a big semi. Crew of five guys. Worked hard, loaded everything carefully and quickly, very polite, but no brighter than needed. At the end they asked us to check that they’d loaded everything. They got everything except the brick on the front porch we used to prop the screen door open. We thanked them sincerely and didn’t say anything about being one brick short.

    2
  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Pete S: As with TFG himself, speculating about what these people “believe” is a category error. They believe everything and nothing and say whatever seems convenient.

    4
  11. JohnSF says:

    @CSK:
    Nadine Dorries aka “Mad Nad” might give them a run for their money.
    OTOH, she’s pretty dumb, but not actively and maliciously crazed.
    Likewise “Failing” Grayling.

    The Tories have a fine collection of jaw-dropping ninnyhammers: Francois, Fabricant, “Deadwood” Redwood, Swayne, Leigh, the list of specimens goes on and on.

    But none have quite the hypnotically awful out-there-on meth-and-acid affect of your finest stormtroopin’ in stilettoes Congresscritters.
    The US takes the prize, I think.
    Congratulations!

    1
  12. CSK says:

    @JohnSF:
    Yes, I thought so. Sadly.

  13. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnSF:..jaw-dropping ninnyhammer:..
    Sounds like the tool an old time dentist in Murphysboro, Doc Birkner, used to beat on a tooth of mine that was in flaming pain to loosen up before he removed it with pliers 45 years ago.
    He was the guy who sounded just like W.C. Fields when I arrived at his office.
    “Come right in sonny.” he said: “Don’t worry about a thing. The biggest, toughest men in town sat in that chair and cried like babies!”
    Yes. He said that.
    As I left all numbed up. He handed me a very small brown paper bag.
    “Here’s something for the pain.”
    Drugs!
    I ripped that bag open as fast as I could when I got out the door. Two aspirin.
    I stopped at the liquor mart on the way home and got a bottle of cheap swill.

    1
  14. Mister Bluster says:

    Cui Bono?
    Bender?

  15. Gustopher says:

    There’s a conspiracy theory or claim (it’s not really exciting enough to be a conspiracy theory) that police departments will put out pallets of bricks near protests so they can charge people with larger crimes.

    Many of the “prepare yourself for the protest” videos mention this and warn people to stay away from the pile of bricks because it is clearly being watched by the pigs who will leap out and arrest you.

    It’s almost certainly bullshit, but it’s bullshit that keeps people from going near the big pile of bricks, so it’s probably good bullshit.

    3
  16. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    One of the secretaries of the high executives here, liked to pass around emails with emergency medical advice. I found it all quite dubious. She collected them from internet postings and copied them.

    One of the first I got, advised coughing hard if you were choking on food and there was no one to help, as such coughing would compress the diaphragm like the Heimlich maneuver does.

    As I said, dubious.

    A few months later, she sends one with the advice to cough very hard if you were having a heart attack, as such hard coughing has the same effect as chest compressions.

    Well, you begin to see the problem.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I’m not sure, but I think projection is subconscious. You don’t need to be self-aware to project.

  18. Ol' Nat says:

    Bricks *would* make a good US analog to prying up cobbles, though.