Facts Matter: What Bernie Sanders was really arrested for in 1963

By Bob Oswald

A 1963 photo of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders with a false caption made the rounds on social media in 2016 after the presidential hopeful announced his campaign. Now that Sanders has announced his bid for 2020, the photo is being shared again.

The photo of Sanders was taken as he was being arrested during a protest over mobile classrooms that were installed because of overcrowding in black schools in the Chicago Public Schools system, according to The Associated Press.

The classrooms were seen as perpetuating segregation. The photo shows Sanders bent over as two police officers hold his arms to remove him from the protest.

Recent posts of the photo claim Sanders was being arrested for attacks against civil rights protesters in 1963, The Associated Press said.

Other uses of the photo are more specific, claiming Sanders, then 21, was arrested for throwing eggs at black civil rights protesters, according to The caption with the post said, "This is the side of Bernie Sanders that CNN and the fake news media don't want you to know."

However, Chicago magazine reported in 2016 that Sanders' "activist record got a boost" as a result of the photo resurfacing, Snopes said.

Sanders was found guilty of resisting arrest and fined $25, AP said.

Obama isn't seeking leniency for Smollett

A recent Facebook post that claims former President Barack Obama had intervened on behalf of actor Jussie Smollett is false, according to

Smollett was charged last week with making a false police report after he claimed he was the victim of a racially motivated, homophobic attack Jan. 29, according to The Associated Press.

The post said Obama "urged (Chicago Mayor) Rahm Emanuel to pressure prosecutors in Chicago to not charge" Smollett. It also claims Obama said, "The sooner we bury this the better."

Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill told PolitiFact the "internet rumor is completely absurd."

The social media post, which first showed up Feb. 20, has been shared 3,000 times and was flagged by Facebook in an effort to combat false news and misinformation, PolitiFact said.

The Facebook offering includes a photo of Emanuel leaning over to speak with Obama.

Emanuel served as White House chief of staff during Obama's term, and that photo is at least 10 years old, PolitiFact said.

The rumor has also appeared on Twitter and included photos of Obama and Smollett, PolitiFact said.

And Harris isn't Smollett's aunt

In other false Smollett news, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris in not the "Empire" actor's aunt, according to

The rumor was posted last month on Twitter by conservative radio host Kevin McCullough, Snopes said.

McCullough later deleted the tweet.

Other people forwarded the claim, pointing to the fact the California senator and Smollett's mother share the common surname Harris.

Harris has one sister, named Maya, born in Illinois and only 16 years older than Smollett, according to Snopes.

Smollett's mother, Janet (Harris) Smollett, is from New Orleans.

There is no evidence of a familial relationship between Harris and Smollett, Snopes said

Titanic lifeboats didn't discriminate

A post frequently shared on social media claims Malinda Borden drowned at sea when the Titanic sank because she was denied a spot in the lifeboats, which were reserved for only white passengers.

The story is false, according to, and there is no record of black people not allowed on the lifeboats.

The post, which has been circulating since at least 2016, includes an unrelated, old photo of a well-dressed black woman.

The image is so weathered it almost appears she is underwater. The Facebook claim also falsely states black workers aboard the Titanic were not listed among the passengers or victims because they were listed among the property that was lost, Snopes said.

In reality, black passengers were nearly nonexistent among the passengers and crew aboard the Titanic when it hit an iceberg and sank during its maiden voyage in 1912, according to Snopes.

The only black passenger Snopes found was Joseph Phillippe Lemercier Laroche, an engineer traveling to his home in Haiti with his wife and children.

Laroche was the sole member of the family who died, and news articles at the time listed him with the victims, not the property.

There is no evidence anyone named Malinda Borden was aboard the ship, Snopes said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at

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