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Right-wing militias descend on Gettysburg after falling for online hoax that Antifa was planning to burn American flags at the Civil War battleground (9 Pics)

Armed right-wing militia groups assembled at Gettysburg on July 4 after an apparent  online hoax suggested that anti-fascists planned to burn American flags at the Civil War battleground. 
The initial event, posted online, reportedly billed itself as a 'peaceful flag burning to resist police.' 
It led to hundreds of counter-protesters showing up to the historic Pennsylvanian battlefield after it was shared on social media by various alt-right groups including militias.
Members of a militia walk past a tourist as they patrol the area surrounding the Gettysburg National Cemetery on Saturday at Gettysburg National Military Park
Members of a militia walk past a tourist as they patrol the area surrounding the Gettysburg National Cemetery on Saturday at Gettysburg National Military Park
One of the hundreds who turned up to thwart a supposed flag-burning event at Gettysburg
One of the hundreds who turned up to thwart a supposed flag-burning event at Gettysburg
They showed up to confront Antifa protesters - but none of the far-left supporters could be seen. 
The posts that appeared on social media ahead of the Independence Day celebrations reportedly called for people to arrive at the site in face paint.
'Let's get together and burn flags in protest of thugs and animals in blue,' one Facebook page read from a so-called organizer. 
Activists promised to 'give away free small flags to children to safely throw into the fire', according to the invite.
The posts were shared to alt-right websites and social media groups, and generated outrage from readers.
One post on Facebook last month even stated Antifa members had been 'trained by radical Muslims' and were planning to 'kill as many Trump supporters as possible'.
The post claimed the information to have been confirmed by Gettysburg Police, which was untrue. 
There was a concerted effort on social media to generate interest in the event which appeared to dupe many far-right militia groups who showed up
There was a concerted effort on social media to generate interest in the event which appeared to dupe many far-right militia groups who showed up
Part of the right-wing response in Gettysburg to a rumored flag burning to be carried out there by Antifa on July 4
Part of the right-wing response in Gettysburg to a rumored flag burning to be carried out there by Antifa on July 4
Hundreds turned out to prevent any burning of U.S. flags, but no one turned up to burn flags
Hundreds turned out to prevent any burning of U.S. flags, but no one turned up to burn flags
The plan was further confirmed by a lengthy Facebook post which gave even more details
The plan was further confirmed by a lengthy Facebook post which gave even more details
However, there is no evidence to suggest that the flag burning had ever been planned by Antifa members at all.   
'No, we did not create the event page. We have no interest in demonstrating at Gettysburg, we are all home with our families. The right wing loves to stir up their base with these ridiculous rumors and conspiracy theories,' the Antifa chapter for Central Pennsylvania group said to the Hanover Evening Sun.   

It's not clear who was responsible for the original social media posts but it lead to hundreds of bikers and militia members all gathering outside Gettysburg Cemetery waiting for a protest that never happened.
'It doesn't matter if it's a hoax or not,' Christopher Blakeman, 45, told The Washington Post.
'They made a threat, and if we don't make our voices heard, it'll make it seem like it's okay.'
Counter-protesters came prepared to guard monuments and other structures at the national park from desecration or damage by protesters. 
Armed militia members, bikers and white nationalists turned up at the grounds of the Gettysburg National Military Park on July 4 to defend against a supposed burning of the U.S. flag by leftists
Armed militia members, bikers and white nationalists turned up at the grounds of the Gettysburg National Military Park on July 4 to defend against a supposed burning of the U.S. flag by leftists
Militia members at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania on July 4
Militia members at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania on July 4
Some of the online adverts promoting the flag burning event which even included face painting for kids
Some of the online adverts promoting the flag burning event which even included face painting for kids
In response to the proposed flag burning event, and the subsequent social media hype around it, local police released a statement on June 30 stating that they would be ready to protect local monuments, homes and businesses.  
'We want to assure those we serve that we are taking all precautions at our disposal to maintain the safety of all residents and visitors to the area as well as the protection of property to include businesses, homes, monuments, churches and other historical treasures located in the greater Gettysburg area,' Gettysburg Borough Police Chief Robert Glenny Jr. wrote. 
Police at the event intervened in only one incident.
Trent Somes, a pastor who was in the Gettysburg cemetery wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, was removed for his own safety after being surrounded by dozens of people, NY Daily News reported. 
During his Independence Day address, President Donald Trump vowed to defeat the 'radical left' as protests against racism and police brutality continue. 
Trump said he would 'fight... to preserve the American way of life'. 
In May, the president said he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization. 

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