Anarchist Accused of Inciting a Riot Surrenders to Police

June 2, 2020 Updated: June 2, 2020

An anarchist wanted for allegedly inciting a riot turned himself in on Monday.

Brian Jordan Bartels, 20, over the weekend in Pittsburgh broke windows out of a police vehicle “against the wishes of peaceful protesters who tried to stop him,” the city’s Bureau of Police said.

Bartels surrendered on Monday afternoon and was being questioned by detectives, the bureau said.

Video footage showed the man walking into police headquarters with a woman and another adult male. Bartels didn’t answer shouted questions from reporters.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by The Epoch Times, Bartels was charged with criminal mischief, institutional vandalism, inciting a riot, and recklessly endangering another person. Arraigned early Tuesday, bail was set at $10,000.

The surrender came after detectives, FBI agents, and other officers executed a search warrant on Sunday on Bartels’ place of residence in Allison Park.

Detectives found evidence including gloves, miscellaneous books and literature, six spray paint cans, an iPhone, and two firearms.

Bartels was captured on video—wearing black clothing and a black facial covering with an anarchist symbol emblazoned across it—smashing windows of a police van during a protest that had been peaceful.

Violence kicked off, according to the complaint, with the vandalism of the vehicle, which was ultimately torched.

A plainclothes detective in the crowd witnessed Bartels cause major damage to the van along while encouraging the crowd to also commit criminal acts, even as some protesters urged the man to stop what he was doing.

“As Bartels continued his destruction the crowd fought back against him less and more people began to join him in damaging the car,” according to the criminal complaint.

Bartels works at Amazon. A co-worker who knows him saw footage of the vandalism, called the police, and tipped them off to Bartels’ identity. Bartels wrote the co-worker on Saturday: “If I’m not at work tomorrow, ask the boss to give me paid time off.”

Amazon hasn’t responded to requests for comment on the criminal charges, including questions on whether the anarchist is still employed.

Among the evidence discovered at Bartels’ residence was a black hooded sweatshirt with white writing that matched the shirt Bartels was seen wearing at the scene of the crime.

Pittsburgh officials said in recent days that anarchists and people from outside the city are responsible for much of the violence seen during protests and riots the past week.

Riots have taken place alongside peaceful protests in cities across the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who was arrested last month in Minneapolis and died in police custody after a police officer was shown kneeling on his neck.

Derek Chauvin kneels on the neck of George Floyd
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneels on the neck of George Floyd, a handcuffed man who was pleading that he could not breathe, in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25, 2020. (Darnella Frazier via AP)

People attacked reporters and “innocent bystanders” in Pittsburgh on Saturday, the day Bartels was recorded smashing the windows, while damaging some 60 businesses, according to Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh’s director of public safety.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert told reporters at a press conference this week that a peaceful protest turned into a riot, with people hurling rocks at people, throwing cans, and injuring police officers and journalists.

Officers were working to track down those who inflicted damage and fostered violence, he said, blaming “white males, dressed in the anarchist Antifa [clothing].”

“We will look at every video that we have, and we will do everything we can with our technology to find the ones who were responsible for a lot of this,” Schubert said. “I’m just so angry at the fact that some segment hijacked this and then took some of the youth and brought them into the mix.”

Federal officials are investigating the organizers and instigators of violence at protests, utilizing the 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces, according to Attorney General William Barr.

“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” he said in a statement.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, said the protest was “hijacked” by a group of 100 or more anarchists who were “focused only on violence,” directing people to the video showing Bartels.

A preliminary hearing for Bartels is slated for June 12.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber