Trump Condemns Pittsburgh Protesters After Videos Go Viral
Footage of a weekend protest in Downtown Pittsburgh went viral—and now President Donald Trump has spoken out about the incident, calling protesters “anarchists” and “thugs.”
Editor’s Note: The embedded videos contain violence and language that some might find offensive, and may not be suitable for all audiences.
In a tweet posted Tuesday, Trump said, “BLM Protesters horribly harass elderly Pittsburgh diners… scaring them with loud taunts while taking their food right off their plate.” One of the clips shows activist Nique Craft approaching a couple, taking a beer from their table and drinking it. Craft alleges in a Facebook post that the woman allowed Craft to take it.
Trump's tweet continued, “These Anarchists, not protesters, are Biden voters, but he has no control and nothing to say. Disgraceful. Never seen anything like it. Thugs!”
Trump later tweeted that city officials should request U.S. Marshals to, “solve your problems in a matter of minutes.”
The viral videos show multiple altercations between protesters and people Downtown Saturday. One clip shows a bicyclist hitting the megaphone being held by a protester before another protester hits the cyclist with a skateboard. The other video shows protesters shouting at restaurant patrons before Craft, an independent activist, grabs a beer from a table outside Sienna Mercato and drinks it.
In a public Facebook post, Craft said the woman at the table allowed them to have the beer. Protesters said the altercation with the bicyclists stemmed from the cyclists trying to ride through the protest march.
Another video from Saturday shows protesters inside a McDonald’s with a megaphone. The chaotic clip appears to show protesters shouting at a McDonald’s worker. Photojournalist Ed Thompson, who shot the footage, claims protesters were trying to order food.
The manager(Ed) @ this McD’s was upset that the protest was in front of the store. The crowd agreed to go in and give them a few hundred dollars worth of food orders. As they were giving the food to the protestors, the manager; started to get nasty with them @PghCurrent @WPXI pic.twitter.com/K3lwfF3ATc— Ed Thompson (@ThompsonFoto12) September 6, 2020
The president is the latest public official to comment on the videos. U.S. Senator Pat Toomey tweeted, “Damaging or destroying reeling businesses hurts workers and isn’t peaceful protesting.” In one of the clips, a protester knocked a glass off a table, shattering it.
Pittsburgh Public safety officials have also spoken out about the footage.
“People have the right to dine in public without being accosted and without vulgarities being thrown at them,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said referring to language used in the videos. “What we saw this weekend was assault and battery. It was embarrassing. The vast majority of the protests in Pittsburgh have been peaceful, but this weekend was anything but peaceful.”
Police Chief Scott Schubert also denounced the footage. “Sadly, the protesters’ message gets erased when you have certain organizers inciting violence, which is what a handful of them are doing,” he said. “Our goal, now and always, is to maintain safety for everyone, and that includes protesters, residents, visitors, business owners and patrons and our police officers.”
Footage posted to Facebook Tuesday seems to support the protesters’ claims that they were antagonized on Saturday. It’s not clear if the footage takes place before or after the altercations near Sienna Mercato or McDonald’s. In one of the clips, a man is seen shouting at protesters, “You sound stupid!”
Pittsburgh Police are working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI Pittsburgh to investigate the footage and determine if any laws were broken. In a statement, Public Safety officials said charges could follow.