Law enforcement officials in Oregon are pleading with the public to only trust verified information about the wildfires ravaging the state after conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon led to a surge in phone calls to 911 dispatchers.
“Rumors spread just like wildfire,” the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Thursday. “Our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON.”
CNN reported Friday that the unfounded claim had been amplified by “Q” — the anonymous person or people behind QAnon — just 12 hours before the response from the sheriff’s office.
“Do your part, STOP. SPREADING. RUMORS!” the sheriff’s office went on to say in its post. “Follow official sources of information such as local emergency response websites and pages, government websites and pages and local reputable news outlets.”
Earlier on Thursday, Q posted a link to a tweet from Paul Joseph Romero Jr., a former Senate candidate who lost the Republican primary in May, that falsely claimed the sheriff’s office had six antifa “arsonists” in custody.
According to CNN, the post by Q was published on 8Kun, a successor to the messaging board 8chan. In 2019, 8chan was tied to three mass shootings by alleged white supremacists, including one in El Paso, Texas, that left 23 people dead. Police in Texas said the accused shooter posted a hateful manifesto on 8chan before carrying out his attack.
Thursday’s Facebook post from Douglas County police comes as wildfires rage up and down the West Coast. In Oregon, more than 500,000 people, or more than 10 percent of the state’s population, have been forced to evacuate as of Friday.
Originally published: 2020-09-11 10:42:50