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OUR VIEW: False information fuels fear

Rumors of rioters targeting businesses and homes spread fast earlier this week.

In Oswego, village officials issued a statement urging residents concerned about the potential for local property damage or other violence due to protests and riots after George Floyd was killed while in police custody May 25 in Minneapolis to seek information from credible sources.

Oswego Police Department spokeswoman Cathy Nevara told Shaw Media, "Rumors we dealt with included that we were expecting a riot and looting in Oswego, and that as a result village officials were telling residents to hide their American flags and telling businesses to close and to board windows. None of these rumors were true."

La Salle Alderman Tom Ptak also voiced his unhappiness with rumors of potential violence that circulated as plans for a peaceful protest were announced. Out of precaution, many businesses closed up shop early.

“Today’s rumors created a panic,” Ptak said. “It hurt what happened today. It put a lot of fear in people’s eyes."

Throughout Shaw Media's markets, journalists followed up on such rumors. While there were instances of violence and looting in some areas, the untruths persisted, and still continue to run rampant.

And we'll continue to push for the truth.

We also live in these communities, and felt the fear fueled by these falsehoods. The only way to combat them is to seek credible sources of information, such as your local newspaper.

The value of local journalism has never been stronger. Local journalists provide a trusted news source and a connection with our communities that social media will never replace.

Our reporters and photographers have attended nearly every protest throughout our coverage area. The intent is not to sensationalize the unrest, but to capture the local voices and faces and opinions of those living in our communities. Our coverage has documented looting and violence and sadness, but it's also highlighted images of peace and respect.

Our newsrooms have also worked tirelessly to cover the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, concentrating on the local impact, whether by providing daily testing numbers, how it's affecting local businesses or a deeper dive into how the pandemic is affecting mental health.

Local journalists have a pressure to get things right that social media does not.

In this day of information overflow, we believe readers want and value a trusted, informative voice. Local newspapers are here to fill that gap.

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