When a satirical Facebook post became a real protest

It’s been a few days since opponents of bike lanes in Minneapolis showed up at a protest that basically mocked them and we still can’t decide who “won” the day: The “internet prankster” who created the fake protest event or the people who turned it into a real protest.

CityLab today looks at Saturday’s event, created on Facebook by Jeremy Piatt (and first reported in City Pages), that purported to oppose bike lanes in the city.

26th and 28th streets in Minneapolis have become congested driving nightmares since the protected bike lanes were installed a few weeks ago. Between Lyndale and Hennepin it’s down to 1 lane for cars making driving a mess. The crusade this city is on to be bike friendly has gone too far. With the Greenway just a few blocks away there is no reason to give up a full lane of traffic to the cyclists!

Join us as we protest the bike lanes this Saturday, October 14th. Bring a sign, a loud voice & alert the media!

Piatt didn’t show up at the protest, and why would he? He just wanted to stir the pot, CityLab says.

“It was all cyclists arguing with nobody basically, just showing everybody how great they are and just kind of patting themselves on the back. They started sharing it, then the real people who are actually against the bike lanes started sharing it,” Piatt says.

Now Piatt had an audience. And, like any good internet troll, he knew what to do. “I kept fanning the flames and putting in terrible memes with comic sans,” he says.

“It started as a joke, but it’s an issue people care about so it very quickly became not a joke,” he says. “It was so funny because he kept putting up facts for us and our points, many of them legitimate. So maybe it was a joke but he was helping us out.”

If something starts as satire, but gets hijacked into reality, is it still satire?

(h/t: Paul Tosto)