Fake News

The Real (Fake) Story Behind the Most Confusing Photo of the U.S. Capitol Raid

How did this Black man end up on the floor of Congress in the midst of an insurrection?

Photo: Kojo Ebro/Twitter

Not even a week into the new year, 2021 decided to show its ass. On January 6, Trump supporters raided the U.S. Capitol in a series of events that began as a “Stop the Steal” protest, then devolved into a full-blown insurrection — one that was incited and encouraged by the sitting president himself (and reportedly assisted by members of the GOP).

Anyone with even a baseline knowledge of American history could tell you how the hell we got here. But the same can’t be said for a man who is the subject of one of the more unusual photos capturing the chaos. First off, dude is Black, so there’s that. His attire — Nike Prestos, blue sweats, an orange hoodie beneath a bubble coat, a backpack, and a red cap turned to the back that may or may not be MAGA — is markedly different from the Walmart/Bass Pro/Rainbow Six chic sported by others who’d stormed the building. There he stood, seemingly lost and out of place amid vandals like Florida Podium Man and the guy rocking a skimpy Chewbacca getup. Needless to say, we had questions. And the primary one was: What the fuck?

I’m hungry as hell by this point, but also feeling uncomfortable. I said, “Gavin, you do realize I’m… Black… right?” He said, “Of course I know you’re African American.”

After unsuccessfully attempting to contact this unidentified, seemingly wayward man, we said to hell with it and conjured up our own version of events. Peep his side of the story, probably, below.

LEVEL: The world wants to know: What is going on in that photo? How did you find yourself standing in a chamber of Congress during a whole-ass coup?

Lost and Confused: Don’t believe what you see online. I wasn’t even supposed to be in D.C. that day. I woke up that morning thinking I was going to Laurel, Maryland. Real shit.

What were your plans in Laurel?

Not many people know this, but the Amish market up there got some of the most fire chicken of all time. I was gonna get that and pick up some Mumbo sauce on the way back.

How did you end up back in D.C.?

So I’m in Prince George’s County, have you heard of it? It’s got the highest concen—

…tration of wealthy Black people per square mile. Yes, we’ve all heard the statistics.

Right, so I was in PG, which meant that I needed to get on the 495 for, like, 30 minutes. My car right now is in the shop, so I needed a ride. I called my boy Sha, but he didn’t want to risk it since we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So I hit an old classmate, Gavin, to see if he’d be down. Yo, he was so excited to hear from me! It was kinda weird. Turns out, he said he has family in that area. So I’m like bet, let’s get some fucking chicken, you know? Anyway, Gav pulls up in a Subaru. I already felt like something was off because I could’ve sworn I heard Kenny Chesney playing when he hit my block. Once I entered the car, Biggie was on.

Oh, wow. Bluetooth blackface.

Yup. He was playin “Notorious Thugs” like the shit came out last week. Anyway, I hop in and shit’s cool. We’re catching up, jammin’ to Biggie and Sean Paul. All of a sudden he gets a phone call. Immediately, he looks stressed. Just nervous as hell.

What happened next?

He asks, “Can we make a detour? I just gotta pop over to D.C. I forgot to bring some materials for a family reunion out there.” I’m thinking, family reunion with the ‘rona out here? Something ain’t adding up. But at the same time, this is exactly why I called this White boy in the first place. I figured he wouldn’t give a fuck about germs or spreading them. I just knew I’d stay masked up. So I let it be. He was doing me a favor, after all.

A reroute like that — seems like it’d be written in the stars that you’re not gonna procure the desired chicken.

I can see that now, but I was already invested. The Amish really got the fresh poultry on lock.

When did you start to get a sense that things were going left — err, right?

Once I started seeing monuments, passing museums and shit, I’m like, “Where the hell is this reunion being held?” We get outside of the Capitol and I see all these White supremacists outside with Trump and Confederate flags waving, dressed all weird. I’m like, what the hell are we doing here, Gavin? He says some of his family members are here, just waiting on him to make a drop-off. I’m hungry as hell by this point, but also feeling uncomfortable. I said, “Gavin, you do realize I’m… Black… right?” He said, “Of course I know you’re African American.”

This seems like a weird Get Out type of situation.

I was pissed, but I figured I should blend in as best I could — especially once the crowd started shoving toward the Capitol entrance. I flipped my Nationals cap backwards and tried to keep my head low and mask secure.

So that wasn’t a MAGA cap?

Man, hell nah! What I look like? Kanye? I saw some of the memes that said I resemble Cane from Power Book II: Ghost. Sure, I kinda see it, but that’s where it stops.

Describe what was going through your mind around the time the now-infamous photo was snapped.

That shit was genuine! Like, I’ve seen White folks get riled up at football games, but what I saw on Capitol Hill while starving for Amish chicken took the damn cake. Dude who stole the podium? Gavin’s uncle, who used to drop off turduckens at his dorm every Thanksgiving. The guy rappelling off the balcony of Congress? That’s one of the coldest Call of Duty players who’s ever called me the N-word online. These are people I’d seen before — but never like this.

What was your first thought when you saw the image of you had begun to circulate on Black Twitter?

I was like, “Damn, they’re not gonna know I was just trying to protect myself.” I was really just trying to get to the Amish market. Now I look like a bozo on the internet.

We’re glad you got a chance to tell your side of the story—especially considering that you were motivated by a chicken coop rather than a coup d’état.

Thank you for the opportunity. I had my heart set on one thing — maybe I should’ve just settled for Popeyes. Next time, Imma just stick to carryout. They’ve never done me wrong.

African from Texas• Staff Writer at LEVEL • Black politics, Celebrity interviews, TV & Film Criticism • Previously: MTV News, San Francisco Chronicle