President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized a group of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters who were captured on video assaulting a man and harassing people eating outside at a restaurant.
“BLM Protesters horribly harass elderly Pittsburgh diners, scaring them with loud taunts while taking their food right off their plate,” the president said in a social media post.
“These Anarchists, not protesters, are Biden voters, but he has no control and nothing to say. Disgraceful. Never seen anything like it. Thugs!”
Similar “thuggery is happening in other Democrat run cities and states,” he added.
A Pittsburgh police official confirmed to The Epoch Times that two videos showing violence and harassment at the Sept. 5 protest are under investigation. In a statement, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissirch said: “People have the right to dine in public without being accosted and without vulgarities being thrown at them. 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.”
The clips showed a demonstrator smacking a bicyclist in the head with a skateboard after the bicyclist shoved a megaphone away that had been put in his face, and demonstrators harassing diners at a restaurant.
“We witnessed demonstrators bullying, harassing and physically assaulting random people simply walking past them or quietly enjoying a meal. Drinks were taken out of restaurant patrons hands and drank before throwing to the ground. People were shaken & scared as they ran away from their tables around us,” Grace Harvey, who posted the videos, wrote on Facebook. She said she was enjoying lunch at the restaurant when the demonstrators passed by.
Monique Craft, 35, a Black Lives Matter activist who drank from a beverage on a couple’s table, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the videos didn’t show three men who shouted: “Blue lives matter!” Craft claimed one of the men grabbed her hair and another swung his bicycle at people.
Craft is facing a number of charges from unrest over the summer, including harassment, criminal mischief, and riot, according to court records.
The man with the megaphone, Lorenzo Rulli, 24, whose given name is Shawn Lateff Green, is also facing charges from violent demonstrations, including riot, failure to disperse, and recklessly endangering another person. Rulli has talked about killing police and dying in confrontations in police, according to court documents.
According to KDKA, a photojournalist who was covering a May 30 riot recorded the crowd setting a police vehicle on fire. The crowd soon turned on Smith, grabbing him and smashing his camera. Smith told police officers that Rulli told people: “Stop that cameraman. Stop that cameraman.”
Rulli told WTAE that the protesters intended to act peacefully on Saturday but they were protecting themselves against being attacked.
“There was an agitator in the crowd who was being aggressive and physical with peaceful protesters,” he said. “We do what we do to keep us safe in any capacity when the police do not engage when it is their time. It’s your time to engage when someone is throwing blows at peaceful protesters.”
Rulli said the bicyclist rode through the crowd and physically touched someone.
He also claimed the diners triggered the actions by making remarks against the crowd.
“People were starting to get aggressive towards us because they didn’t see what happened. But the other people actually didn’t care. They got up out of their seats and moved to the side so that we could address the people who actually were making remarks,” he said, adding: “We abide by the law in our marches.”
Rulli later led the crowd to Mayor Bill Peduto’s house.
Police officers were stationed outside Peduto’s house on Saturday when demonstrators marched there again.
Peduto, a Democrat, said in a social media statement that people during protests twice tried to break into his house while others threatened on social media to attack the residence.
In another post, he accused the “Alt-Left” of attacking him.
Hundreds of Black Lives Matter demonstrations involved violence, researchers said in a recent study.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady shared a story about what happened in Pittsburgh over the weekend, writing: “This is completely unacceptable.”
“We will work closely with [police] to identify and hold these provocateurs accountable,” he said.