No, these private buses are not transporting BLM protesters to US demonstrations

Left: Posts shared online claimed NBA team buses were used to transport BLM protesters. Right: A photo posted by the Toronto Raptors of their bus wrapped in support of BLM (Photo credit: Toronto Raptors/Twitter).
Left: Posts shared online claimed NBA team buses were used to transport BLM protesters. Right: A photo posted by the Toronto Raptors of their bus wrapped in support of BLM (Photo credit: Toronto Raptors/Twitter).

Since July, various photos of large buses, emblazoned with the words “Black Lives Matter,” have continually been posted on social media. The captions posted on the photos claim that these buses belong to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and are used to transport demonstrators to centres of protest. The problem? The buses actually were rented by a Canadian basketball team and used to transport their players in Florida.

The misleading captions that have been shared alongside these photos imply that the Black Lives Matter group is using its fundraised resources to hire private buses and armed guards to bring Americans to protests. One such post, published on Twitter on September 2 by American actor James Woods, had over 34 thousand likes and 18 thousand retweets before it was deleted. 

A photo of buses with a false caption was posted by American actor James Woods on September 2. 

In these photos, two buses, marked “Black Lives Matter,” are parked in a row of other buses, all black and white. These pictures, published as early as July 20, seem to claim that all the buses parked here are intended to shuttle BLM protesters to demonstrations.

"Notice the number and immense cost of the custom buses bringing in Black Lives Matter and Antifa Rioters,” this poster wrote on Twitter July 20. 

People posting this false information stress the cost that private buses pose to BLM organisers.  One post, which was shared over 45 thousand times, said: “Where is [BLM’s] money going other than to buy huge charter buses to transport members to riots!” 

A photo posted on Facebook on July 24 claims to show a bus bought by BLM to transport protesters. 

Why it’s false

A quick Google search for “Black Lives Matter buses” shows us that these buses were not used to transport protesters. In fact, they were used by a National Basketball Association (NBA) team, the Toronto Raptors. 

One of the photos shared online with a misleading caption was originally posted on the team’s Twitter page. 

Left: The Toronto Raptors posted pictures of their buses saying “Black Lives Matter” on Twitter July 9. Right: The Toronto Raptors’ photo posted with a false caption on Facebook July 24.

On July 9, the Toronto Raptors posted these photos of two custom buses which were embellished to support the BLM movement. The team’s name and logo are also printed on the rear of the buses. 

Further proof: the team posted a video showing the buses and players who were wearing BLM shirts the same day. 

A video posted on Twitter by the Toronto Raptors shows two buses marked “Black Lives Matter” and several players wearing BLM shirts. 

While two separate examples of buses emblazoned “Black Lives Matter” have been shared online, a closer look reveals that both pictures show the same buses.

Photos of so-called Black Lives Matter buses published on Twitter can be compared with photos from the Toronto Raptors, proving that they are the same buses (Photo credit: Toronto Raptors/Twitter).

The Raptors used these buses for their three-hour trip from Naples, Florida to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. They arrived to begin practising at the “NBA Bubble”, an isolation zone created by the NBA for its players during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Many NBA teams and players have been outspoken in their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Several games were cancelled when the Milwaukee Bucks, a team from Wisconsin, refused to play after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, on August 23. 

>> Read on FRANCE24: NBA, MLB teams go on strike against racism, forcing US leagues to cancel games

Raptors president Masai Ujiri said July 24 that the BLM buses were used to “make a statement” and “create awareness” during the team’s drive through Florida.

A spokesperson for the team told AP that the buses were customised for the team by a private company, used for one day, and then parked in Ft. Lauderdale, where they have remained unused since July 10. 

Left: A Facebook post claims to show pictures of BLM and Antifa buses stopped at a truck stop near motorway 595. Right: Google maps satellite (top) and street-view (bottom) images show charter buses regularly parked at a truck stop adjacent to the motorway. 

The buses in the photos belong to south Florida charter bus company, which provided the wrapped buses to the Raptors. A closer look at some of the photos posted online reveals that many of these buses are marked with the FloridaTours logo. 

Left: A photo of the so-called BLM buses posted on Twitter on July 20, magnified. Right: A screenshot from a video posted to the FloridaTours Instagram page on May 11 shows a bus with the same logo and black and white pattern. 

Posts misrepresenting these buses are still being shared online amid ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the United States. This is not the first time that fake news has been spread to discredit the BLM movement. 

>> Read on the FRANCE24 Observers: '#GoBaldforBLM': a failed attempt to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement 

Article written by Pariesa Young