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Wait, what… child soldiers? Confusion triggered by bizarre videos allegedly showing KIDS IN RIOT GEAR guarding Atlanta’s streets

Wait, what… child soldiers? Confusion triggered by bizarre videos allegedly showing KIDS IN RIOT GEAR guarding Atlanta’s streets
Amid nationwide riots over George Floyd’s death, a bizarre and unverified video has got the internet abuzz. The baffling footage appears to show children, dressed in camouflage uniforms, guarding areas around Atlanta, Georgia.

In the clip circulating on social media, children are seen decked out in military gear as they stand side-by-side with much older looking, but similarly equipped, individuals. In one clip, a young man in a military uniform is seen holding a riot shield – purportedly part of a group keeping watch over a mall in the city.

“There’s literally like a twelve-year-old out here. Thirteen, maybe fourteen,” the video’s creator says as he zooms in on the boy.

In an equally bizarre video, also purportedly from Atlanta, a boy wearing camouflage, a bulletproof vest, a gas mask and a tactical helmet stands guard with a rifle. However, there was no magazine in the weapon.

“How old are you, brother? Thirteen?” the person filming the video asks the child. The boy doesn’t respond. The authenticity of the footage cannot be verified, and some assumed the clip might have been staged or shot at an unrelated youth event. 

Nevertheless, the videos created pandemonium on social media. Hitler Youth trended on Twitter on Saturday, as the anti-Trump brigade claimed that the US military was now sending children in to protect civil society. Still more people begged for an explanation.

The confusion was likely compounded by the fact that Georgia’s governor ordered the state National Guard to deploy to Atlanta on Saturday to help restore law and order.

“It appears the state of Georgia, or someone with access to uniforms and guns, has deployed child soldiers,”wrote Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. “This is child abuse.”

Others described the scenes as the deployment of a “child militia” to the city.

However, these concerns are unfounded. No federal or state-level branch of the military or law enforcement employs child soldiers. While some speculated that the armored kids were “deployed” by Atlanta authorities, such a deployment would never actually take place.

Still, the videos went viral at a critical time, and have only added to growing unease in the city – and across the United States. 

Riots and looting broke out in Atlanta on Friday, with even CNN’s headquarters being targeted and attacked by angry demonstrators. The nationwide unrest, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man who died while in police custody, is expected to escalate as more protests are planned for the weekend.

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