WaPo Fact Checker Awards Biden Four Pinocchios For Yarn About Civil Rights Arrest

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler awarded President Joe Biden four Pinocchios after his claim of being arrested during the Civil Rights movement.

The president gave his account of the reported arrest at his Monday speech in Atlanta, Georgia, where he claimed to have been arrested for “the first time” during a civil rights protest. Biden has reportedly told the inconsistent story of a protest on five separate occasions, often alleging that officers arrested him as he stood on the front porch of a black family’s home, the Post reported.

“I did not walk in shoes of generations of students who walk these grounds. But I walked other ground, cause I’m so damn old I walked there as well. They think I’m kidding, man. Seems like yesterday, the first time I got arrested-anyway,” Biden said, during the speech.

In two separate accounts, Biden said the police brought him home from the protest, the outlet reported. Kessler said that there is a possibility that police took teenage-Biden home, but noted that this does not equate to an arrest.

The president said he was 14-years-old on two accounts, then said he was 13, then 15 another time, according to the outlet.

Biden often told the story of his late mother, Catharine “Jean” Biden, telling the story of protests erupting in their neighborhood over real estate agents selling a home to a black couple, the outlet reported. In four accounts, the protest allegedly took place in Lynnfield, Delaware. In another version, it took place in Carrcroft.

In his 2017 memoir, “Promise Me, Dad,” Biden references a conversation with his mother where she mentioned his fight for civil rights without any mention of an arrest, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Biden Has Claimed Several Times He Was Arrested In South Africa While Trying To Visit Nelson Mandela) 

“My ninety-year-old mother, who had watched my fight for civil rights and racial equality, put it this way at a larger family meeting the next day: ‘So, let me get this straight, honey. The first African-American in history [Barack Obama] who has a chance to be president says he needs your help to win—and you said no,” Biden wrote, according to the outlet.

Kessler said Biden has not always been “a reliable source” in the past and that his arrest claims lack credibility.

“The primary source for this story is Biden—and we’ve learned over the years that he is not always a reliable source. He appears to be citing his mother to enhance his civil rights credentials—which would have noted he has exaggerated before,” Kessler said. “But too many elements do not add up to give this ‘arrest’ more credibility than his previous claims of getting in trouble with the law.”

A number of newspaper accounts reported several protests in Carrcroft in 1959, where protesters picketed the home of a real estate agent that sold a home to a black couple, the outlet reported. The demonstration, however, took place in the Collins Park neighborhood located nearly nine miles from Biden’s home.

The report listed a total of seven arrests, including four teenagers that possessed fireworks, the outlet reported. The Associated Press reported another protest taking place in southern Carcroft at the home of real estate dealer Francis A. Levering Jr. The location was roughly a 15-mile walk from the Biden residence.

The Wilmington Journal reported an arrest of a 17-year-old on breach of peace charges after allegedly swinging at a woman named Elizabeth MacGuinness during the protest at the Levering residence, the outlet reported. Biden would have been aged 16 at the time of the demonstrations.

The president admitted his claim that he was arrested during a congressional delegation trip to South Africa during the 1970’s was untrue. He clarified that police stopped him rather than placed him under arrest.