A reporter for The Washington Examiner has deleted her social media accounts after receiving severe backlash after a viral post of hers turned out to be staged. Fiona Moriarty-McLaughlin, a senior at UC Santa Barbara, posted a photo to her Instagram that showed her helping board up a storefront in preparation for the ongoing protests.
According to Essence, the photo was taken by Moriarty-McLaughlin's boyfriend, which showed her brandishing a power tool, . The actual boarded-up business was one of many that had taken similar actions as a means of dealing with the protests, as some had turned into riots, complete with looting. On June 1, however, actor Johnny Sibilly posted a video of the impromptu photoshoot, which was revealed to be staged. After the photo was taken, the reporter can be heard talking about her Instagram account, before she and her boyfriend drive off in a black Mercedes.
this is what some of y’alls activism looks like pic.twitter.com/z14HmcGFOa— JOHNNY SIBILLY (@JohnnySibilly) June 2, 2020
The clip was then shared by New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz, as well as NBA star LeBron James and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, all helping it rack up more than 24 million views. Shortly afterward, Moriarity-McLaughlin made her social media accounts private, before deleting them altogether. Before taking her accounts down, her Twitter bio read "I'm just chasing the facts."
The protests started on May 28, just three days after the death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. After being accused of trying to pay with a counterfeit $20 bill, four officers responded, while one, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee against the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes, killing Floyd in the process. All four officers were fired and Chauvin was later arrested on May 29, one day after the first protests erupted in Minneapolis. He's currently being charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter and held on $1.25 million bail.
The death of Floyd, a black man, set off a firestorm of reaction from people across the U.S., who have been calling for major reforms after repeated cases of minorities who are killed by police. The Minneapolis City Council has since elected to defund the city's police department. No concrete plans have been announced, though council member Philippe Cunningham said they would likely draw out a plan when crafting the next city budget.