PITTSBURGH – U.S. Attorney Scott Brady issued a video statement today following the filing of a Criminal Complaint charging Brian Bartels with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder in the City of Pittsburgh over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A transcript of U.S. Attorney Brady’s video statement follows:
"I am here to announce that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania has filed criminal charges for civil disorder against Brian Bartels.
On Saturday, several thousand citizens came to downtown Pittsburgh to protest the tragic death of George Floyd. They came to air legitimate grievances, consistent with the best traditions of our country. As they marched through downtown, the protest was peaceful.
Then, the protest turned violent. Bartels was the first to incite violence. With others looking on outside PPG Pains Arena, Bartels spray painted a Pittsburgh Police car. Other protesters yelled "Stop!", but Bartels smashed and jumped on the windshield. Others then joined in. The car was set on fire and destroyed.
This was the inflection point in the demonstration! What was peaceful became lawless. Ultimately, Pittsburgh police cars were burned. Mounted Pittsburgh Police officers were attacked. And projectiles were thrown at Pittsburgh Police Officers. What started as a peaceful demonstration, turned into a violent evening of destruction throughout downtown Pittsburgh.
This was no heat-of-the-moment outburst by Bartles. Last Friday, Bartels purchased red and black spray paint. He packed his backpack with the spray paint and with rocks to bring to the protest. He brought his agitator toolkit to the protest to deploy.
Why? Bartels admitted to Pittsburgh police and the FBI that he is an extremist. He put himself and his own views before those of the organizers and other protesters. If he had done so with words, we wouldn’t be here today and he wouldn’t be facing federal charges.
The First Amendment protects peaceful assembly and protest. DOJ fights every day to protest those rights. They are truly some of the great blessings of liberty that we enjoy. Billions of people across the globe do not enjoy such rights.
But the First Amendment does not permit people to use a protest as cover to commit arson, destroy property or incite violence. Let this be a warning to everyone who would copy Bartels and similar extremists – this weekend and at any future protest – any protestor who crosses this line should know that we will use every tool at our disposal to find you and prosecute you."