Local social media was abuzz Thursday with rumors of protests and even “riots” scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in Sanford – and then nothing happened.
Details about the events were sketchy – there were various rumors about protests at City Hall or the courthouse, and a lecture at the Mann Center, all shared with The Rant multiple times over the course of the day – but were given some credibility by an Instagram video by a person possibly from Atlanta going by the name of Red Pill, who said he would be in Sanford on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m., as well as a flyer promoting a lecture he planned to give at the Mann Center from 6 to 9 p.m. Virtually all of the rumors had events beginning at 6 p.m.
But as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday, nothing had taken place at any of the named locations. The Lee County Sheriff’s Department had a visible presence at the courthouse, but no demonstrators or anyone else could be seen other than a lone television reporter at the courthouse. The gates at the Mann Center were locked.
Adding to the confusion, flyers for two Friday events that seem to be in conflict with one another began circulating on Thursday. In one, demonstrators are asked to assemble at Third and Alcott streets at 3 p.m. Friday to march to city hall. In another, Red Pill is again slated to appear at the Mann Center at 5 p.m. before a march toward city hall. Tickets can be purchased, the flyer indicates, through Eventbrite, which shows no events scheduled in Sanford on Friday, and the Mann Center website likewise shows nothing.
Additionally, in the Instagram video linked above, Red Pill indicated he would be in Atlanta for an event there on Friday. If anyone can provide clarity on the conflicting details, please contact us. News organizations are typically reluctant to dispel rumors, but their pervasiveness today – as well as the threats of violence that appeared to come unanimously in response to the rumors – seemed to necessitate this post.
We’ll continue to monitor events on Friday, but in the meantime remember that social media posts may or may not be true. Take everything with a grain of salt.