https://www.washingtonpost.com/inve...zmuenEF0KQYXqVM9ATcPKGDYnSQl4-wB4zpkfOSN9VVaw Armed militia members, bikers and white nationalists turned up at the grounds of the Gettysburg National Military Park on July 4 to defend against a supposed burning of the U.S. flag by leftists. (Andrew Mangum for The Washington Post) Reporter focusing on investigative stories ranging from government accountability to international corruption. BioBioFollowFollow July 4, 2020 at 9:58 p.m. EDT For weeks, a mysterious figure on social media talked up plans for antifa protesters to converge on this historical site on Independence Day to burn American flags, an event that seemed at times to border on the farcical. Support our journalism. Subscribe today.arrow-right “Let’s get together and burn flags in protest of thugs and animals in blue,” the anonymous person behind a Facebook page called Left Behind USA wrote in mid-June. There would be antifa face paint, the person wrote, and organizers would “be giving away free small flags to children to safely throw into the fire.” As word spread, self-proclaimed militias, bikers, skinheads and far-right groups from outside the state issued a call to action, pledging in online videos and posts to come to Gettysburg to protect the Civil War monuments and the nation’s flag from desecration. Some said they would bring firearms and use force if necessary. Trent Somes said he was visiting his ancestors' graves in Gettysburg, Pa., on July 4 when a crowd surrounded him, asking about his Black Lives Matter shirt. (Trent Somes/Youtube) On Saturday afternoon, in the hours before the flag burning was to start, they flooded in by the hundreds — heavily armed and unaware, it seemed, that the mysterious Internet poster was not who the person claimed to be. Biographical details — some from the person’s Facebook page and others provided to The Washington Post in a series of messages — did not match official records. An image the person once posted on a profile page was a picture of a man taken by a German photographer for a stock photo service. Part of the right-wing response in Gettysburg to a rumored flag burning to be carried out there by antifa on July 4. (Andrew Mangum for The Washington Post) Hundreds turned out to prevent any burning of U.S. flags, but no one turned up to burn flags. (Andrew Mangum for The Washington Post) The episode at Gettysburg is a stark illustration of how shadowy figures on social media have stoked fears about the protests against racial injustice and excessive police force that have swept across the nation since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.