In the midst of the Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) live-tweeting of yesterday’s clash of left-wing and alt-right groups in downtown Portland, the bureau fired off an unusually alarming message:
“Police have received information that some of the milkshakes thrown today during the demonstration contained quick-drying cement,” read the PPB tweet.
It's since been determined this claim was based on one officer's assumption, rather than truth. However, this sweeping allegation has already been regurgitated as fact by mainstream news organizations and popular right-wing leaders, contributing to an already warped national perception of Portland politics, policing, and protest.
PPB's tweet is referencing the homemade vegan milkshakes that Popular Mobilization, one of the left-leaning groups, handed out to hundreds of attendees during the day’s events. Several people ended up throwing their 12-ounce milkshakes at people associated with the alt-right and at PPB officers—but most people consumed the coconut milk-based treats.
PPB did not immediately offer proof to substantiate this claim.
Yet, PPB’s tweet containing this rumor has gained nearly 13 thousand re-tweets and has been regurgitated by national media outlets like NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, and, of course, FOX News. Conservative leaders—like US Senator Ted Cruz, Ann Coulter, FOX’s Laura Ingram, and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch—also parroted the claim on their popular Twitter accounts.
More than 24 hours after posting this Tweet, PPB explained why they chose to publish it.
"A Lieutenant in the field broadcast information of his observation of a cup with appeared to have material on it consistent with quick drying cement," wrote PPB spokesperson Lt. Tina Jones in an email to the Mercury. "We put out the tweet to bring attention to this potential hazard and to encourage people to contact us if they were the victim of a crime."
It's unknown if anyone else provided actual proof that there were toxic chemicals blended into the vegan shakes. Meanwhile, many people who drank the milkshakes Saturday have shared their lack of symptoms on Twitter.
Just in case anyone is wondering. I drank the milkshakes at the protest yesterday and they contained no cement. There is no evidence they ever contained cement.
— Lauren Hudgins (@lehudgins) June 30, 2019
Just for the record: I saw no cement yesterday. I saw Andy Ngo covered in milkshake and silly string and raw egg. I drank three of those milkshakes and I feel fine. Can we talk about the children in concentration camps now?
— Tricina 🏳️🌈 (@tricina) June 30, 2019
It appears that one officer's recognition that a coconut milkshake looks a little like wet cement convinced PPB to issue the worrisome tweet.
Only after PPB published this tweet did the bureau receive an anonymous email from someone sharing a "recipe" for a cement milkshake.
As of 9:30 pm Sunday, PPB had not clarified—let alone deleted—its inflammatory tweet.