Weinberg hadn’t seen the viral story about the trail where he regularly biked. He didn’t know that, for several days, the video had circulated online as law enforcement crowdsourced help in locating the suspect. Now that he had seen it, he didn’t think he looked anything like this guy. And he didn’t understand why anyone thought he was him.
“You assaulted a little girl and other innocents because of your political beliefs,” one Twitter user messaged him. “Hey so are you the piece of shit who assaulted a child in Maryland today on the bicycle trail?” asked another. “Hey you racist bitch….we’re coming for you.” “You deserve to pay.” “Ur going down u disgusting piece of shit.” “Nice job assaulting a small child today. You need to be fired from your job immediately.” “YOU UGLY RACIST BITCH.”
As he attempted to piece together what was happening, Weinberg called the number for a detective provided by the Maryland-National Capital Park Police. “We are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the below individual in reference to an assault that took place this morning on the Capital Crescent trail. Please contact Det. Lopez with any information,” read a tweet sent June 2 from the department and shared more than 55,000 times.
But the Park Police had made an error. “Correction, the incident occurred yesterday morning, 6/1/2020,” they wrote in a follow up tweet. As with most such clarifications, it had only a fraction of the reach: a mere 2,000 shares.