Video does not show looting during US blizzard

A video shared on social media purports to show the looting of a Walmart store during a massive snowstorm in Buffalo, New York. This is false; the video was recorded in Philadelphia two years prior to the storm and is being shared out of context.

"NEW: #Walmart store devastated by ongoing looting in #Buffalo, #NewYork," says a December 26, 2022 Facebook post.

The video pans across a ransacked Walmart with boxes strewn across the floor and shelves left empty.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken December 27, 2022

Similar posts can be found across social media, including on Twitter and the Chinese social media platform Weibo, many having received thousands of views.

A deadly blizzard hit the Buffalo area on December 25, 2022 resulting in the death of nearly 40 people. But claims that the looting was filmed during the recent weather catastrophe is false; the video predates the storm.

AFP conducted a keyword search and found the same video posted on multiple YouTube channels two years before the monster storm.

Examining the frames below, elements from the clip on the left -- purported to be from Buffalo -- match those from Philadelphia, on the right.

Screenshot of a tweet taken January 1, 2022

Screenshot of a YouTube video taken January 1, 2022

 

 

The Buffalo Police Department's anti-looting detail announced 10 arrests as of December 28, but Walmart confirmed its stores were not impacted.

"I can confirm that no stores in the Buffalo, NY area reported looting during the recent storms," a Walmart spokesman told AFP by email.

The footage was captured in the Port Richmond neighborhood in Philadelphia after the fatal shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man who was gunned down by police in October 2020 while armed with a knife. A nationwide movement protesting police brutality also saw incidents in which some businesses were looted -- including the Walmart shown in the video.

The Philadelphia Police Department commented on the break-in on Twitter at the time of the event:

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AFP has previously reported on looting footage shared out of context here and here.