Fact check: Viral image does not show President Joe Biden apologizing to George Floyd’s child

The claim: Photo shows President Joe Biden apologizing to George Floyd’s child

A miscaptioned photo purports to show President Joe Biden apologizing to George Floyd’s son. However, the child in the image is not Floyd’s. 

“U.S. President Joe Biden kneels down to beg George Floyd’s son for forgiveness,” media company NaijaXtreme wrote in an April 11 Facebook post that has since been removed. “The same kneeling position that killed Floyd. Minneapolis City Government awards Floyd’s family $27 million, as alleged killers go on trial. Highest humility, leading by example.”

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AFP reported in November that the false claim was widely shared in African countries, including Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa, after a former Nigerian senator shared it on Twitter.

Old versions of this claim purported Biden was apologizing to Floyd’s daughter.

Both versions are false.

When USA TODAY contacted NaijaXtreme for comment, the Facebook account responded that it had found the miscaptioned photo on Twitter. Similar posts were still visible here and here as of this item’s publication.  

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden shops for his grandchildren at Three Thirteen in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. Biden is visiting Michigan for campaign events. (Photo: Patrick Semansky, AP)

Photographer and image captions disprove the claim

 The photo was actually taken in Michigan by a photographer for Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla.

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Here’s the caption from Getty: “Wearing a face mask to reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden kneels to chat with C.J. Brown while shopping at Three Thirteen, an apparel store on the city’s Avenue of Fashion, September 09, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan.”

Reuters’ North America editor Corinne Perkins tweeted a different image of the same interaction on Sept. 9.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to CJ Brown as he makes a brief stop at “Three Thirteen” clothing store to buy a few items for his grandchildren while visiting Detroit, Michigan. Photo by ⁦@LeahMillis⁩ pic.twitter.com/hKVPZKIPFe

That image was taken by Reuters photographer Leah Millis. Months later, Millis responded to the fake claim about an apology in a tweet.

Today in a strange case of fake news in other countries: my photo is circulating around saying that it’s of President elect Joe Biden apologizing to George Floyd’s daughter after the election. https://t.co/b2ZWQB8Qdq

C.J. Brown is not Floyd’s son

Brown’s father, Clement “Fame” Brown Jr., owns the Three Thirteen clothing store where Biden was shopping when the photos were taken.

Clement "Fame" Brown of the Detroit apparel retailer Three Thirteen. (Photo: Guru Public Relations)

Both Brown and Biden shared images of their time together on Instagram.

According to civil rights leader Al Sharpton, who gave the eulogy at Floyd’s memorial service, he had five children. Following his death, Floyd’s son Quincy Mason Floyd, daughter Connie Mason and daughter Gianna Floyd, age 6 at the time of his death, spoke publicly.

According to the Floyd family’s attorney Benjamin Crump, Floyd was survived by another daughter, age 22 at the time of his death. The identity of Floyd’s fifth child has not been made public.

This claim is far from unique. Over the last year, USA TODAY has debunked multiple miscaptioned images of Biden. Several of those fact checks involved misrepresented photos of Biden kneeling for various reasons.

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Our rating: False

We rate this claim FALSE because it is not supported by our research. A viral image does not show Biden kneeling to apologize to Floyd’s child. The boy is the son of a Detroit clothing store owner. The photo was taken when Biden shopped at the store along the campaign trail.

Our fact-check sources:

  • USA TODAY, May 28, “George Floyd.”
  • AFP Fact Check, Nov. 27, “Image shows Joe Biden kneeling to speak to a boy in Detroit, not George Floyd’s daughter”
  • Olayemi, April 11, tweet 
  • Getty Images, Sept. 9, “Joe Biden Campaigns In Warren, Michigan”
  • Corinne Perkins, Sept. 9, tweet
  • Leah Millis, Nov. 17, tweet
  • Three Thirteen Store, accessed April 12, “Founder”
  • Three Thirteen Store, Sept. 9, Instagram post
  • Joe Biden, Sept. 15, Instagram post
  • USA TODAY, June 4, “‘He was like the general’: Mourners grieve George Floyd at Minneapolis memorial service”
  • KETV Omaha, April 13, “Advertisement ‘My heart is really touched’: George Floyd’s children attend protest, denounce violence”
  • USA TODAY, For The Win, June 3, “George Floyd’s daughter Gianna: ‘Daddy changed the world'”
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 28, “‘He’ll never see her grow up’: George Floyd mourned by children, family, friends and strangers”
  • USA TODAY, July 30, “Fact check: Joe Biden didn’t take a knee upon seeing a flag; he was talking to a child”
  • USA TODAY, Oct. 15, “Fact check: Meme misrepresents photo of Biden kneeling at campaign event for photo”

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook. 

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