July 7, 2020

ATLANTA: Dressed the part, ‘Panther’ group came straight from central casting.

They said they were Black Panthers, and they looked the part with all-black attire and black berets adorned with a cat-head patch. Their leader was a tall, thin black woman armed with an assault rifle and a determined look. Photos of the group popped up in local news outlets, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but also in the British tabloid press.

“Armed female Black Panther leads her comrades including a white recruit on a march through Georgia,” The Daily Mail wrote in an online story about the June 3 demonstration Decatur. The story featured several dramatic photos and embedded Instagram posts.

It is easy to see why the group attracted attention. In a moment of fury over police shootings of black people, the group was perfectly cast. Maybe too perfect.

Within a few days, an activist on Twitter sussed out that the group was comprised of models and actors from Atlanta’s film and entertainment industries. A Twitter user who goes by Wolf The Red identified them from their Instagram accounts where he found the group modeling haute couture or publicizing their film credits, but “zero prior demonstrations. No posts with guns. No calls to action.” . . .

“The outfits? We just pulled inspiration from (the Black Panthers),” she said. “It was mostly black and leather — pleather. Some of us are vegans, vegetarians.”

Well, don’t laugh. Hitler was a vegetarian, after all.

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