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So Much for That 'Halloween Revolt'

Another scare story fails to come true.

Never forget!SnopesRemember the "Halloween Revolt"? Masked members of a group called the "National Liberation Militia"—supposedly anarchists, though that isn't a very anarchistic name—were allegedly conspiring to cause some sort of disturbance Saturday night, just to lure police to a spot where the officers could be killed.

There was an FBI alert about it. There was a ton of media coverage. Did you forget already?

It wasn't clear to what extent any police department thought this was a substantial threat, and the press often did more to obscure that question than to illuminate it. An outlet in Florida, for example, heavily implied that the FBI warning was why fans attending the Bulldogs-Gators game would not be allowed to wear masks or make-up that conceals their identity. But the article never actually quoted anyone in the sheriff's department connecting the rumor to the rule. Paranoid cops, or just a paranoid reporter?

At any rate, the story should have set off everyone's bullshit detectors. As I wrote last week, this sounded like one of those old urban legends about gang initiations mashed up with the recurring dubious narrative of a "war on cops," with some Halloween fears for seasoning. It might as well have been delivered in a big box labelled CAUTION: RECYCLED RUMORS INSIDE. But still the media ran with it. And now that Halloween has come and gone with no radical "revolt," I suppose the usual amnesia will set in.

But maybe we could do something really radical, and try to remember it.

* * *

Bonus link: I'm not sure where the Halloween Revolt rumor began, but this document, which was circulating online last week, is an interesting link in the chain. It claims that police agents infiltrated Anonymous and launched a "Halloween Mayhem Op":

They are recruiting people that are more than happy to create violent chaos, and take to the streets Halloween night, with guns. The orders are to randomly shoot innocent people (if you think this sounds implausible, they have successfully done it before, details below), tear down atms and surveillance cameras, and actively riot against police....ALL IN THE NAME OF ANONYMOUS. Our masks, our name.

Obviously, that didn't happen either. What I'd like to know is which came first—the government version of the conspiracy theory, or the anti-government version of the conspiracy theory?

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