On July 15 2019, Facebook user DC Draino and Twitter user @StClairAshley shared footage purportedly showing a confrontation between StClair and unnamed “leftist protesters” outside an immigration detention facility in Aurora, Colorado:
It was heavily implied, though not stated outright, that this was during the co-ordinated July 12, 2019 Lights for Liberty protests that took place in cities throughout the world to call attention to deplorable conditions for thousands of asylum-seekers detained in terrible conditions in overcrowded camps and tent cities in the United States:
One speaker, Ingrid Castillo, arrived in the United States a few months ago from Honduras with her two young children, ages 4 and 6. She recalled how, after a long journey walking from Honduras to flee domestic violence, she was forced to sleep on a cold floor with her children while being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I just want to tell you, Mr. President, that you have kids and a wife. Put your hand in your heart to understand why we came here,” Castillo pleaded with the president, who was not in the White House but flying back to D.C. from Cleveland at the time of the vigil.
Gerson Quinteros, an organizer with the immigrant youth-led network United We Dream and recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, shared his memories of being detained by ICE as a 9-year-old boy after crossing the border. Quinteros said he remembers being put in a “cold cell” with a cement bench that was only a few feet from the bathroom.
Imam Talib Shareef of the nation’s mosque, Masjid Muhammad — a mosque in Washington, D.C., founded by the descendants of enslaved Africans 83 years ago — connected the detainment of undocumented immigrants to the freedom movement of slaves who were also “separated, segregated, degraded, concentrated in camps.”
On Facebook, the clip accrued well over two million views and over 50,000 shares. On Twitter, it racked up more than 30,000 separate engagements. However, StClair’s clip did not resemble actual protests at the Aurora facility (of which numerous videos have been shared on Facebook and Twitter):
The difference between radical protest and liberal protest. An older white woman who was upset with the more direct action stated they had been doing this event for 3 years and that we were ruining it. #abolishICE #AURORA pic.twitter.com/qClgyIr7Ut
— i should be writing (@baddybianca) July 13, 2019
“Shut it down! Close the camps!” Protest outside #ICE in Aurora. I just spoke to a mom who brought her children from Highlands Ranch to take part in this rally. She says it’s hard to tell her kids what’s happening with #immigrantraids, but important to be a voice for change. pic.twitter.com/4F93xRhiIw
— Kelly Werthmann (@KellyCBS4) July 13, 2019
The protest in Aurora is massive. Protesters headed toward the GEO immigration detention facility. pic.twitter.com/EZc4g8yACp
— Conor McCormick-Cavanagh (@ConorMichael28) July 13, 2019
StClair did not provide additional information for her video, which was bordered with text:
LEFTIST PROTESTORS DEFEND REPLACING U.S. FLAG WITH MEXICAN FLAG AT I.C.E. FACILITY
“F**K THE TROOPS”
As presented, the text framing the video represented somewhat of a non-sequitur — “the troops” were irrelevant to the discussion to hand, which involved a protest at the Aurora ICE facility; it was a clear attempt to marry the two disparate issues of military and immigration.
Moreover, no sign of the massive crowd of thousands of actual protesters was visible in StClair’s video, in which she is claiming to report on protestors removing an American flag from over the facility and replacing it with a Mexican flag.
In an actual news report, the flag swap was addressed in the context of the actual protests:
Aurora Police Department Chief Nick Metz issued a lengthy statement [on July 13 2019] explaining why officers didn’t intervene when a small group of protesters were seen removing multiple flags – including an American one – from the front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Aurora [the previous] night.
“The decision to not intervene at the time was based on protecting the safety of the large majority who were acting peacefully, and the safety of the officers,” the statement reads. “Our folks were more than ready to decisively engage had we witnessed assaultive behavior or damage to the building or surrounding property that could jeopardize its security or public safety.”
Metz estimates that between 1,500 and 2,000 total people attended the protest, which split into separate groups over the course of the night. Organizer Lights for Liberty continued with several planned speakers, while another large group left the public street and entered the grounds of the detention center itself, which is federal property.
In StClair’s clip, a female “protester” is seen purportedly shouting at the camera and StClair, and a male companion looks straight into the lens while saying “fuck the troops.” The same man says that “optics” are irrelevant, an unlikely bit of exposition explaining away their bizarre positions. In the background, an individual in drag attire is inexplicably present.
None of the “protesters” in Ashley StClair’s video have been identified, but their “protest” did not align with legitimate, wide-scale protests which occurred at the site a few days prior to the clip’s publication. We attempted to locate the individuals depicted or uncover further information demonstrating that the footage was an authentic, unstaged interaction between an ICE supporter and protesters, but have not been able to verify its legitimacy.
We will update this article as more information becomes available.