Early Wednesday morning, WUSA and WJLA reported that the DC police said three members of the white nationalist group Proud Boys were stabbed by three people “associated” with Black Lives Matter on New York Avenue early Wednesday morning.
However, an hour later, the two news outlets updated their stories to say that the police had retracted the earlier statements, saying that there was no evidence that the suspects were affiliated with Black Lives Matter and that the victims were not members of Proud Boys.
A police source close to the investigation says that the difficulty began because the officer responding at the scene filed an unclear and poorly written incident report. Detectives were later dispatched to reinterview witnesses and the victims for a new report. Police officials would not confirm whether or not this was true.
At the time of the initial press briefing, the source says that Lt. Ralph Neal, the officer giving the statement, was working off of the faulty incident report and reports from unnamed sources in the Police Department, who said that the victims were members of the Proud Boys. That was later found to be untrue, as officers re-interviewed the victims. It is unclear why police believed the victims were Proud Boys.
The source also claims that Neal was misquoted by reporters and in fact said that the suspects were not associated with Black Lives Matter. WUSA station manager Michael Valentine tells Washingtonian the station quoted the police accurately. A representative of WJLA has not yet replied to Washingtonian‘s request for comment. The police source says that the victims of the incident stated that they were not attacked by people associated with Black Lives Matter.
The DC chapter of Black Lives Matter quickly responded to the initial report on Twitter, saying that no one from that movement was involved in the incident. Tweets from both TV news outlets later disappeared.
All three victims sustained minor injuries. In a press conference Wednesday, DC Police Chief Newsham said that the motive for the stabbing is not known, but if it is found to be political, the incident will be considered a hate crime.