Fact check: Videos show G-7 climate demonstrators, not satanic ritual

The claim: Videos show a satanic ritual taking place near G7 in England

Gang of Seven summits frequently attract large demonstrations, as protesters attempt to catch the attention of world leaders and international news outlets.

This year’s gathering in Cornwall, England, was no different, but footage from the demonstrations has been mischaracterized on social media.

Instagram and Facebook users are sharing videos and photos of red-cloaked protesters in white face paint to allege satanic rituals took place near the summit.

“Satanic rituals going on in Cornwall Carbis bay Where the G7 is being held,” reads the caption of a June 13 Instagram video with more than 11,000 views. 

In a similar version of the claim posted to Instagram on June 13, one user shared images of protesters dressed as black birds and compared the red clothing to garb from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian novel and TV show. Other users called the protest a “Satanic Freak Show Outside the G7.” 

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The videos were captured near the G-7 summit, but they show a climate change protest— not a satanic ritual. The claims echo the QAnon conspiracy theory, which baselessly alleges the existence of a global cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles whose members include Hollywood celebrities and political elites.

In a message to USA TODAY, one Instagram user claimed the symbol used by the environmental group — an hourglass inside of a circle — proved there was something more nefarious at play. The other social media users did not respond to requests for comment. 

Videos show environmental activists

Nuala Gathercole Lam, a spokesperson for the Extinction Rebellion, told USA TODAY via email that the videos show the Red Rebels and the Blackbirds, a “newly formed” theatrical action group that staged a “wake-up call” protest in Cornwall. 

Extinction Rebellion was launched in 2018 and describes itself as an “international movement that uses non-violent disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimize the risk of social collapse.” The protesters dressed in red cloaks are part of the Extinction Rebellion’s Red Rebel Brigade, a performance activist group created in 2019 by artists Doug Francisco and Justine Squire to draw attention to climate change, according to the group’s site.

The red clothing worn by the protesters represents blood, danger, passion and stop signs— not devil-worshipping. There is no mention of satanic rituals in coverage of the demonstrations from local media outlets. 

Mat Osmond, an Extinction Rebellion member who guided some red-cloaked individuals through the streets of St. Ives, a town in Cornwall, told the Agence France-Presse that the movement often uses creative media to promote its message, adding that the organization has no connection with Satanism. 

Police monitor the 'Red Brigade' group from the Extinction Rebellion environmental activists as they protest in the streets of Falmouth, Cornwall during the G7 summit on June 12, 2021. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

Photos and videos from previous protests are available on YouTube and Getty Images. 

Our rating: False

The claim that videos and images show satanic rituals taking place in Cornwall isFALSE, based on our research. The footage shows the Blackbirds and the Red Rebel Brigade, climate activist groups that are affiliated with the Extinction Rebellion. The groups put on theatrical performances to draw attention to climate change and are not linked to Satanism.

Our fact-check sources: 

  • Red Rebel Brigade, accessed June 16, website
  • Nuala Gathercole Lam, June 16, email exchange with USA TODAY
  • Extinction Rebellion, June 10, DAY ONE: ‘Sound the Alarm’ – Extinction Rebellion demand G7 take action on climate finance, or risk the failure of COP26
  • CornwallLive, June 12, Protests and marches in Falmouth as the G7 summit is underway
  • Malvern Gazette, June 16, Extinction Rebellion members from Malvern take part in G7 protest
  • Evening Standard, June 12, Thousands protest over climate change, Ethiopia and G7 summit
  • Doug Francisco, accessed June 16, Extinction Rebellion 2019 – the Red Rebel Brigade
  • AFP, June 15, Purported satanic ritual at G7 summit was climate protest
  • Bourne Community TV YouTube page, Sept. 5, 2020, Extinction Rebellion and the Red Rebel Brigade protesting climate change
  • Getty Images, accessed June 16, ‘Red Rebel Brigade’ search
  • Extinction Rebellion, accessed June 16, About Us
  • BBC, Oct. 7, 2019, What is Extinction Rebellion and what does it want? 

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