Sciencing the accusations against antifa

I approve this use of the scientific method to debunk the Portland police. They fed this stupid rumor that antifa was mixing quick-setting cement into milkshakes to do more harm to the fascists they were protesting. There was no evidence of such behavior, but it quickly became a right-wing talking point.

So Willamette Week tested the assertion. They made vegan milkshakes, then stirred in cement. It can be done! Unfortunately for the accusers and the credibility of the Portland police, it can’t be done surreptitiously.

Neither the Portland Police Bureau nor any witness has been able to produce credible evidence that a single cement milkshake was thrown June 29. But a concrete milkshake is distinctive, as we learned. It’s gritty, clumpy and a dark color. If such concoctions weren’t seen June 29, that is almost certainly because there weren’t any.

Cement milkshakes also won’t set, confirming what I heard from many people that sugar interferes with the process.


  1. says

    And if it did set, what damage would it do? Ruin some clothing? Maybe one would have to shave their head as they probably wouldn’t be able to get it out of their hair easily. But it’d probably come of off skin without too much hassle. And I’d doubt it would rip off any skin. I’ve worked with quick-setting cement before and so I can’t understand what the big deal would have been even if it were true.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    To cause someone harm with quick-mix cement, one might either throw it dry into the target’s face, or follow the directions on the bag to make one or more hard objects with which to clonk the target on the head.

    Wasting a milkshake with it also wastes the (rather poor) weaponizing potentials of the material. Even the Pentagon might give up on this project (after a few multi-million dollar attempts, of course).

  3. says

    @Leo Buzalsky, I have been thinking the same. I worked with a lot of cement in these last years around the house, both quick and normal setting, and whilst I never covered myself with a big layer, I got some splashes on clothing or bare skin here and there. When you wipe the big chunk off straightaway (as anyone would) the remaining thin crust crumbles and falls of if left to set.

    The only problematic thing here is that cement is mildly caustic, but if hurting someone with caustic substance were teh goal, quicklime mixed with water would be the more obvious choice instead of (not in addition to) milkshakes.

    Maybe the police officer writing the propagande does not know the difference between quicklime and quick setting cement?

  4. Dunc says

    They were trying to give the impression that the milkshakes were actually solid lumps of concrete. Stupid, but there you go…

  5. kome says

    Fascists love to play up being the victim of oppression to mask that they are victimizing other people. Which helps explain why they accuse real victims of only pretending for attention – that’s the only mental model they have for why someone would claim to be victimized, because they can’t imagine what it would actually be like to be truly victimized and seek justice to fix things rather than power for power’s sake.

  6. unclefrogy says

    I have heard of putting a 5 pound bag of sugar into a ready-mix truck when the load was not able to be dumped or delivered in time to keep it from setting to make it easier to clean out the truck so the sugar would make it not set I would think the fat in the milkshake would also not help much.
    the idea of cement milkshakes sounded really stupid to me anyway some idea made up by some ignorant person trying to make antifa sound bad and dangerous as if hey were trying to heart people instead of making them a joke with pie in the face here replaced by a milkshake which is easier to carry and produce.
    from my experience it is very easy to provoke violent bigots into violence all you have to do is confront them they will lash out it’s what they do.
    uncle frogy

  7. davidnangle says

    Can cops be convicted of filing a false police report? Yeah, I know the answer to that.

  8. daemonios says

    @lumipuna, apparently the Portland police failed to produce any Portland cement to make its accusations stick.

  9. says

    Sugar is a well known inhibitor for cement (I have tested it myself), and as others have pointed out the real hazard is the caustic nature of cement.

    @daemonios #11: It’s almost too much of a coincidence…

  10. whywhywhy says

    #10 davidnangle

    Can cops be convicted of filing a false police report? Yeah, I know the answer to that.

    Felt like being obvious: in theory, yes the police are under the same laws as everyone else and more so they are theoretically in danger of losing their job since maintaining the community’s trust in the police is extremely important.

    In practice: No. (stated while holding back laughter and saying something like “Isn’t that precious” or “Bless your heart”)

  11. ridana says

    I saw somewhere (maybe here? I lose track while surfing) where they were showing pictures of them making the milkshakes from ice cream in buckets, and they sort of enlarged the warning label on the side of the bucket. Then screamed, “What substance that comes with a warning label not to touch it on the bucket it’s sold in is a milkshake ingredient!!1!!@!” If they’d zoomed in a little more, they’d have seen that it was the standard warning against children possibly drowning in even small amounts of any liquid in the bucket. ::facepalm::

  12. microraptor says

    @ridana: You think that was accidental and not deliberate scaremongering?

  13. PaulBC says

    I agree that it’s a deliberate smear. It started out with fallacious “slippery slope” reasoning: if it’s milkshakes today, tomorrow it could be poison milkshakes! (By the same theory, any clear line of sight is a potential rifle shot.*) That turned into an urban legend that it would be something worse and who knows where the concrete idea came from, maybe watching too many Roadrunner cartoons (that part I can relate to).

    The big take-away is that rightwingers really don’t like being hit with milkshakes.

    For whatever reason, Portland police decided that this legend was a better one to promulgate than, say, razors in Halloween apples, or carjackers who attack when you flash them for using high beams. News media briefly took it up and have been neglectful in giving the debunking as much play. “A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (whoever said it first, but probably not Mark Twain)

    I can’t really think of a good remedy as long as large numbers of people are tuning into a single source for news, particularly if the source is Fox News. (But no matter where you hear something, it is just not that hard to look for multiple sources.)

    *If you’re secret service protecting the president, blocking every line of sight is a reasonable precaution, as well as keeping the president well away from thrown milkshakes. For the rest of us, the reality is just that going outside exposes us to risks. Someone who throws a milkshake at milkshake distance is no more likely to want to throw something life threatening than another at milkshake distance who does not throw a milkshake. Throwing a milkshake represents the intent to throw a milkshake, no more or less. It is arguably a form of assault, but not lethal intent.

  14. Ridana says

    15) @ microraptor:

    I don’t know? It’s kind of a Poe situation. Some are deliberately faking stupidity and some are just stupid, and I can’t tell the difference anymore.

  15. voidhawk says

    “They were trying to give the impression that the milkshakes were actually solid lumps of concrete. Stupid, but there you go…”

    I love the idea that instead of just picking up a rock, Antifa spent time and effort manufacturing rocks to be thrown in-situ.

  16. says

    @Dunc: like Acme Quik Cement from Roadrunner, that dries right when you need it.

    *Throws milkshake*
    *Sees it solidify right above the fascist’s head*

  17. Jado says

    PZ, are you going to believe empirical evidence or the lying Portland Police Department? I mean, THEY are public servants dedicated to the protection of the public from those who would cause injury and terror. So you gotta believe them, even if they decide that the laws that have been broken are the laws of physics and chemistry.

    They’re POLICE, PZ!! They’re automatically right. Just ask them…