First it was the Mayor-President, now Lafayette Police has announced they're ready to deal with a fake event posted by a satire comedy page.
The event, "ANTIFA takes River Ranch," was posted by the Cajuuun Memes page. Yesterday, we spoke to the creator of the event and the page, who says it was posted to show "how gullible people can be" and demonstrate the false information being spread about Antifa. You can read that by scrolling down.
Today, the Lafayette Police Department issued the following statement:
In recent days, a Facebook event was created titled “ANTIFA Takes River Ranch”. This information was brought to the attention of investigators at the Lafayette Police Department. With the assistance of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, investigators have been diligently working and monitoring this event. Through our investigation up to this point, there seems to be no credible evidence that suggests that this event will take place. There is believed to be no organization in the Acadiana area affiliated with this event.
The Lafayette Police Department and Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office are well prepared with a contingency plan in place should this event develop in the upcoming days. Law enforcement takes all threats against citizens and property very seriously, and the safety of the community is our top priority.
Lastly, both the Lafayette Police Department and Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office are urging individuals in opposition of this event to allow law enforcement officials to address this event accordingly.
Yesterday, we spoke to the creator of the event. John Merrifield, a professional entertainer, created the event on his satire comedy page after he read an article about a similar prank that attracted dozens of people against antifa - and nobody aligned with antifa.
"Essentially, I wanted to show how gullible some people could be," he said. "I saw a news story about another town where a similar thing was done, and I thought it would be fun to do it in Lafayette."
He intentionally worded the event description so that "anyone with discernment" would know it was a joke. He said he wasn't surprised that Lafayette's mayor felt compelled to address the post; but instead, "maybe validated."
Merrifield won't be in River Ranch on Saturday - he lives in New York now - and he doesn't expect anyone associated with antifa to be there, either.
"The whole point of it was to be entertaining," he said.
On Tuesday, Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory issued a statement condemning the post.
Merrifield's page, Cajuuun Memes, is a satire page known for posting satirical and antagonizing jokes and memes. The three U's stand for Useless, Unsuccessful, and/or Unpopular.
Last week, the page posted an event, "ANTIFA Takes River Ranch," which is alleged to start at 4:20 p.m. Saturday.
Here's the info about it from the event page:
CAJUN COMRADES RISE UP! We will be gathering at Ruffino’s on the River to begin our complete takeover of the elite neighborhood known as River Ranch.
Card-carrying ANTIFA members ONLY!
WEAR 👏 YOUR 👏 UNIFORMS 👏
The takeover will begin with a traditional ANTIFA flag-burning ceremony which will be subsequently extinguished with ANTIFA spit and NAZI tears.
No children or minors. Large dogs welcome. Arms optional. Legs encouraged.
Antifa is not an organized group and has no uniforms or membership cards. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as "a political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology."
Some of the Cajuuun Meme page's most recent posts include a meme stating why the Alfred Mouton statue should be replaced with one of local businesswoman Sharon Moss because she "can get you a deal on a Honda," and another that illustrates the "Cajun Phonetic Alphabet."
Guillory knows the "event" was posted by a satire page, but LCG has received a lot of calls from citizens concerned about the post, and it was decided that a statement was necessary, a Guillory spokesman says.
Here's the statement:
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory reiterates a zero tolerance policy for threats to life and property in Lafayette Parish. In light of recent social media posts about the possibility of certain hate groups that intend to “complete takeover of the elite neighborhood known as River Ranch”. “Promoting a riot or any disorderly conduct, whether joking or a hoax, is irresponsible and reckless,” said Guillory.
“Here in Lafayette Parish, we have absolutely zero tolerance for threats made against our citizens or their property, and we will act accordingly to prevent these situations from happening,” he continued. Lafayette Police will monitor the situation closely and will take all necessary and appropriate measures.
As to that statement, Merrifield was serious.
"I have not threatened any violence toward anyone, nor has anyone on "my side" threatened violence toward anyone," he said. "However, I have had multiple threats of violence against me that I have documented."
Merrifield said he's been told he should be "shot in the head" for disrespecting the flag. He said he doesn't plan to use the evidence he's documented unless he has to.
Merrifield is now writing satire professionally in New York, so it's a comedic form of which he's fond - as was Mark Twain, he says.
There is one critic who might give him pause, though.
"My mom wasn't too happy about it," he says of the post. "But she's always been very supportive of me."