In late May 2020, a photograph of three purported protesters of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders circulated which purported to show three men “crucified” outside a McDonald’s. A since-deleted Facebook post originally stated:
I have no words …..this is disrespectful as hell *clarification*They are protesting staying inside orders, feel like they’re being martyred ????
Legit picture of actual protestors. Where do I even begin? The lack of nails through the wrists shows no real dedication and is disheartening. Do we get to stab them with spears? Are they singing “Always look on the bright side of life” while they stand on their platforms? Who brings a grill to McDonald’s? When did hamberders and haircuts equal crucifixion? Why are they off their meds? What part of the South is this?
Although the post did not mention COVID-19 lockdowns directly, it was evident that the poster referenced protests to lift social distancing restrictions throughout May 2020. Other variations of the image and claim were also shared to Twitter on May 10 and 11 2020 (via Know Your Meme):
In the first image above, the poster retweeted a tweet suggesting that the image depicted “three corona protesters getting nutty with it,” and a second person wrote:
I want McDonalds to open again too but crucifixion is a step too far.
Even for a delicious Big Mac with strawberry milkshake #COVID
However, as Know Your Meme explained, the image existed well before SARS-CoV-2 did, and therefore had nothing to do with stay-at-home orders or ensuing protests:
On April 5th, 2018, Tumblr user x7s018y3fhigoxg posted the earliest version of the image.
Iterations of the claim the McDonald’s crucifixion image was a COVID-19 anti-lockdown protest continued circulating on Facebook and Twitter, but the image was mislabeled and misleadingly presented. The photograph was first shared in April 2018, nearly two years before COVID-19 was deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization.