I love this story. It’s an amazing story, which is part of the suburban Antifa invasion genre but takes it in an interesting and novel direction. We start in Columbus, Ohio, another city with BLM protests and what is probably best described as an old school hippie bus with all the flowery freeform murals and the like. It’s the home of a group of street circus performers who do something called Flow Art which the paper calls “an umbrella term for a type of street performance that usually involves juggling and spinning flaming objects.” I just learned about Flow Art. Maybe you already know about it. The troupe call their bus Buttercup. Fair enough. The bus is co-owned by Marisa “Reese” Digati and her partner, Jonathan “Bearpaw” Crane. They live in the bus.
The crew heads down at the protests and they get stopped by the Columbus police SWAT Team. It’s a bit tense but it ends up being a pretty low key affair. They’re detained for about 45 minutes but just sitting on the curb, no zip ties or handcuffs. Here’s a video one of the jugglers took from inside the bus. According to the jugglers, the cops made clear they weren’t in trouble and hadn’t done anything wrong. They just had to leave downtown. The bus was impounded. The circus folk left and picked up the bus the next day from the impound lot. So far it’s like just another day at the intersection of militarized policing and urban hippiedom. No one’s really the worse for wear.
Then it gets weird.
The next day Columbus police went on Facebook to announce they’d finally caught one of those Antifa invasion buses red handed.
According to the Flow Art jugglers all these claims are bogus. On Facebook Digati said: “The ‘weapons’ that were found are tools. Axes for my wood stove, knives for cooking, etc. … The ‘riot gear’ was literally a child’s shoulder pads, elbow, and knee pads for sports.” Another member of the troupe chimed in: “Yeah, there’s a hatchet on the bus — with a bunch of wood sitting next to a wood-burning stove. Well, duh. The rocks were crystals and fossils. They emptied out a knife block [from the kitchen area] and said they found a meat cleaver.”
But the damage had been done. The Columbus police department post made the rounds as confirmation of the Antifa invasion rumors swirling around the country – seemingly first concocted by a faux “antifa” site run by white supremacists and possibly amplified by Russia bots.
Then Marco Rubio got involved.
Police in Ohio found a bus near protests filled with bats, rocks & other weapons. But I guess still “no evidence” of an organized effort to inject violence & anarchy into the protests right? https://t.co/NRR74Faym0
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 2, 2020
According to the juggler squad they’ve been repeatedly harassed since the social media posts went viral as terrorized Fox News watchers spot the bus and mobilize their defense.
TPM’s Kate Riga will have more on this story a bit later this evening.