Dozens of right-wing, pro-Trump protesters showed up to a North Carolina Outdoors store Saturday. They brandished Confederate flags, pro-Trump regalia, and vowed to defend the shopping center from Antifa. As it turns out, they were likely pranked. The Antifa demonstration never occurred and was most likely a gag started by a Facebook group of unknown origin, reports the Gaston Gazette.
A Facebook page for Gaston County Antifa broadcast a large-scale Antifa rally at the shopping center. "PSA for all the Gaston County Antifa out there:
This is what we will be up against Saturday October 20th at Gander Mountain," they posted next to a picture of what appear to be right-wing protesters. "This is the fascist circle jerk of trash talkers who voted Trump and are threatening to crash our Gastonia rally. 🤪🤪🤪🤪."
Previous posts claimed "From the gym to the gun range, we are training and preparing."
Rumors of an Antifa rally spread throughout the week. Yet only counter-protestors—and a few police officers—showed up Saturday.
Attendees told the Gazette they'd heard rumors Antifa members planned to burn the giant American flag at the shopping mall.
“We don’t care if it’s a prank," a counter-protestor told the Gazette. "We’re going to show up because what’s going to happen is they’re going to call this and then we ain’t going to show up and then they’re going to really burn down an American flag and it’s going to cause someone to seriously have problems.”
Cleveland County Sheriff’s Maj. Joel Shores said that the Facebook page is not linked to a real-life group in Gaston. Nevertheless, a rally attendee vowed to guard that shopping mall "until we know Antifa ain’t coming."