A Black Lives Matter protest ended in arrests Saturday when demonstrators failed to disperse following police instruction leading to one activist getting punched by an officer for interfering with an arrest.
Approximately 20 protestors had taken to the streets in Wilkinsburg, PA east of Pittsburg to demand “Justice for Jim Rogers.” Rogers had died in October after being tased during an arrest for an alleged theft of a bicycle.
Five of the officers involved in Rogers’ death were terminated from their positions after the medical examiner ruled the death was accidental. This outcome was evidently not enough for the BLM activists who took to the street in what local police called an unlawful assembly while attempting to disperse the crowd.
Warning: Adult Language
At an unlawful #BLM protest in Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh yesterday, protesters ignored police orders to get off the road. As black cops tried to make arrests, some of them tried to prevent that & put their hands on the cops, leading one to punch & arrest one.https://t.co/6vw08oyeF6
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) April 17, 2022
The protestors appeared hostile toward the officers as instructions were calmly given to clear the intersection. While an officer was talking to one protestor, a woman stepped in between the two and interfered. That officer then proceeded to attempt the arrest of the woman believed to be Victoyia Townes when another protestor intervened.
As seen in the video, an individual reported to be Vuestro Merced pushes the officer away from Townes and continues to block the arrest before another officer, who happened to be black, delivers one punch to Merced’s head knocking the protestor to the ground.
One of the women resisting arrest at the Pittsburgh #BLM protest where a militant was punched to the ground was previously arrested over a racist BLM attack on patrons in a restaurant in 2020. Victoyia Townes has a trial for that attack on April 20. https://t.co/eZ77JbL0M0
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) April 19, 2022
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) April 18, 2022
As journalist Andy Ngo reported, Townes is awaiting an upcoming trial on April 20 for a previous arrest from 2020 where she was accused of attacking patrons at a restaurant during a BLM protest.
Merced was later released Saturday and, according to Ngo, activists have been using images of the incident to promote fundraising. This will likely not be the last protest connected to the death of Jim Rogers as three of the eight officers involved in the initial arrest were permitted to retain their jobs while the five terminated are free to challenge the firings while criminal charges are mulled, according to WTAE.
Pittsburg Mayor Ed Gainey remarked at the time of the firings that police and public safety investigators worked “as thoroughly and efficiently as they could without jeopardizing this case. I think that’s critical: without jeopardizing this case. Because when these decisions are made, the process is important, not to do anything to threaten the effective outcome or do anything violate [sic] this process.”
Devon Adwoa from Justice for Jim Rogers had said, “To put it simply, the family says even though five officers have been fired, we have from the beginning been pressing for criminal charges and that’s what needs to happen. I would push that needs to happen because this process that Gainey speaks of, this process the public safety director speaks of, I don’t think they acknowledge that this process does not work for black people and it never has in this city.”
The Wilkinsburg Police Department had not commented on the arrests at the time of this posting.
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