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Insurrection ‘Meemaw’ Ignites Flurry Of Memes—Except She Wasn’t Even Actually At The US Capitol


There are now scores of images from the Capitol riots that will indelibly live in our brains forever.

And among the most memorable was one that was by turns bizarre, hilarious and bone-chilling. A photo of a sweet-looking, slightly dazed-seeming, tiny old lady standing in the Capitol amidst the insurrection was shared online.

The internet named her “Capitol Meemaw,” and she instantly spawned a boatload of hilarious memes in the aftermath of the riot.

But joke’s on all of us.

It turns out she wasn’t even there.

Capitol Meemaw’s journey to internet infamy all began when a Twitter user posted a photo of her sweetly smiling at the camera, American flag in hand, amidst a group of other Trump supporters supposedly in Washington DC at the Capitol riot.

And before long, the image was ricocheting around the internet as part of myriad memes.

She even spawned a new joke about Republicans’ repeated attempts to pin right-wing violence on leftists—the nickname Aunt Tifa.

But if the photo didn’t quite add up to you—because the small number of people around her looks so calm and non-threatening compared to all the other terrifying images from the Capitol riot—you weren’t alone.

BuzzFeed News tracked down Capitol Meemaw in Kansas, where she lives.

And it turns out, she was nowhere near the United States Capitol on January 6. Instead, she was at a protest at the Kansas state Capitol in Topeka, where the photo was taken.

In fact, similar images of her appeared in news footage from local station KSNT taken at the Topeka demonstration—which, in contrast to its Capitol counterpart, was calm, orderly and legal. Not a single arrest was made the entire day and no one stormed, vandalized or looted unlike in Washington DC.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, is actually a 66-year-old Christian who grew up on a nearby wheat farm. She attended the Topeka demonstration to pray for the country.

As she told BuzzFeed:

“At the Capitol, we were really just there to pray, and that’s really our mission every time we go there—just cover the whole Capitol with the presence of the Lord.”

And she had no idea she had become internet famous until a friend reached out about it.

“He said he’d seen a picture of me and wondered if I was at the [US] Capitol, and I assured him I was not. I was a long ways from there.”

“I couldn’t be in two places at once!”

On Twitter, people were shocked and even a bit disappointed to find the “Capitol Meemaw” moment had all been a ruse.

Perhaps the biggest bombshell of all is that Capitol Meemaw never had any children—so she’s not even a Meemaw at all.

So far, 2021 is full of surprises.

Written by Peter Karleby

Peter Karleby is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.