False: Video shows cages in California intended to be used for humans in 15-minute cities.

By: Chandan Borgohain
March 20 2023

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False: Video shows cages in California intended to be used for humans in 15-minute cities.


The Verdict False

The cages are not connected to the concept of 15-minute cities. They were earlier used by California's prison department but are no longer in use.

Claim ID 538730d1


False and unsubstantiated claims about the idea of '15-minute cities', an urban planning concept that has started gaining traction recently, have been spreading like wildfire on many social media platforms. While the idea behind the 15-minute cities is to develop neighborhoods in such a way that all residents can get access to all major needs— such as parks, schools, shops, and healthcare facilities— within a 15-minute walk or cycle from home, conspiracy theorists have conflated the idea with "urban incarceration," creation of "dystopian cities," a tool to "take away cars and control lives," and made several outlandish claims. 

A video posted recently on Facebook, with over 3,500 shares, claims to show "cages" for humans in Caruthers in California, U.S. The user insinuates that these "cages" are intended to be used for 15-minute cities. The text "#15minutecities" has been written over the video, the first part of which starts with visuals of an assortment of metal cages on the roadside, captured by someone on a moving vehicle. Two unidentified men can be heard in the background saying that the cages "are for people" and that they seem to have toilets in them. The second part of the viral video carries a TikTok clip showing cages from a distance. The words "Human prison cages in Caruthers Ca." and "Sheriff department said that they would be destroyed by Oct of 2020" are written over the video. The text further claimed that the footage was recorded on July 10, 2021. 

In Fact

The first part of the viral video appears to have surfaced on the internet first in 2020. Logically found a slightly longer version of the clip on YouTube, uploaded on August 15, 2020, by a user called 'Foton z Teksasu.' The 31-second video was titled: "Fields of human cages in Caruthers, CA."

Logically contacted the sheriff's office in Fresno County, where Caruthers is located, and sought details about the reported cages. The Fresno County Sheriff's office sent a report published by FOX26NEWS, an affiliate of the Fox news network, noting that the report "contains accurate information." Published on August 18, 2020, the report said that the sheriff's office launched a probe after receiving several reports of spotting cages— many feared were being used to hold human trafficking victims and field workers captive—outside a ranch in Caruthers. The report further said that a video was also going viral at the time with visuals of cages and the claim that the cages were being used for human prisoners. 

We also found a statement issued by the Fresno County Sheriff's Office on August 18, 2020, on Facebook clarifying the purpose of the metal holding cells or "cages" seen in the video. "Detectives were able to track down the location of the cages and found out that they were once used by the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) to provide a safe and secure area for protective custody inmates to participate in outdoor activities," the post said. It added that the holding cells had been retired from service, and a local metal recycling business had obtained these units directly from CDCR. The statement further said that they would "eventually be recycled or repurposed by local area farmers to protect agricultural supplies and pumps from theft." Similar details were also reported in the FOX26NEWS report about the cages.

The statement also said that the claims about the metal cages being used for holding human trafficking victims and for other inhuman purposes originated from a video posted on YouTube.

In the comments on the Facebook post, the sheriff's office also posted a copy of the video in question. While posting the 31-second video, the sheriff's office wrote: "The original poster of the video has since taken it down from YouTube. However, this is a copy of it. Please be aware it includes language that you may find to be offensive." The video's content is the same as the one posted on YouTube titled "Fields of human cages in Caruthers, CA." The footage, whatsoever, has no connection to 15-minute cities and fails to give evidence that cages or even the idea of holding people captive is central to the urban planning concept.

We could not verify when footage of the second clip in the viral video was recorded and whether these cages or metal holdings are still present in Caruthers. The sheriff's office told Logically that they did not know about the current status of the cages. "We would not have knowledge of the cages anymore as that was several years ago," the office said. We found no statement from the sheriff's department wherein they stated these cages would be destroyed by October 2020, as claimed in the viral video. The CDSC did not respond to our query about the status of the cages.

15-minute cities, a term coined by French Urbanist Carlos Moreno, aims to reduce the use of private vehicles by increasing human proximity but does not plan on restricting the freedom of movement. Logically and other news outlets have previously reported that the concept does not attempt to keep people under government control.

The Verdict

Videos of metal cages, previously used by California's prison department and then given to a local metal recycling business, have been falsely linked with the concept of 15-minute cities. The insinuation that the cages will be used to hold humans captive in 15-minute cities is unfounded. Therefore, we mark this claim false. 

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before