In a weekend-long event called ‘Stand with Comet,’ people demonstrated in support of Comet Ping Pong, a popular pizzeria in Northwest DC that has become the target of a bizarre far-right conspiracy theory called “Pizzagate.” Although the theory has no basis in reality and has been thoroughly debunked, the restaurant, its employees, and surrounding businesses have received threats and harassment from people who believe it. Earlier this week, a man from North Carolina entered Comet and fired an assault rifle into the restaurant. The man, Edgar Welch, later told police he had gone to Comet to in self-investigate the conspiracy theory.
“Pizzagate” believers allege that Comet, a locally-owned business, has been operating a child sex trafficking ring, run by the Clintons and other top Washington Democrats. These false claims were spread and popularized through fake news articles and social media sites. These claims, which have no basis in fact, sparked backlash from misled and concerned people around the country and resulted in Comet employees and neighboring businesses receiving numerous death threats. Many believers of the theory are members of the self-named “alt-right,” a group of far-right extremists who tend to ignore mainstream conversation, focusing only on their neo-nazi beliefs and supporting President-elect Donald Trump.
In response to the recent act of violence and many verbal attacks, Comet has hired full-time security to protect its employees and customers. Many locals have demonstrated in love and solidarity for Comet by joining in on the “Stand with Comet” event. The event was organized by members of the local community through a Facebook group, and spread through social media. While originally intended to take place on Friday, December 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., the organizers chose to extend it all weekend long due to unexpected turnouts and astounding amounts of support from locals who wish to let Comet know that they are are not alone.
A large sign posted inside the pizzeria (which has said to have seen an increase in business during this weekend’s event) reads ‘Stand With Comet’ in bold letters, and is covered in signatures and uplifting messages from supporters and locals. Other signs reading “We’re still here,” “Fake News is NOT ok,” and “We Love Comet,” are lined up in front of the restaurant along side bouquets of flowers. Members of the community have shown their support by dining in or standing out front with their own signs, and the Comet community has received national support in the forms of donations and kind messages via social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
PHOTO BY CHLOE LEO