PITTSBURGH — Well-known activist Will Parker told Chief Investigator Rick Earle that he was protesting like he’s done many times before when he was repeatedly bumped, and then shoved to the ground and arrested and charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.
All of the charges against him were withdrawn before his preliminary hearing.
The incident happened at the Juneteenth parade in the Hill District last summer. Channel 11 was covering the parade when the incident occurred.
Our camera captured Parker speaking with some parade marchers and walking behind Mayor Ed Gainey and Allegheny county councilmember Bethany Hallam.
Parker has been highly critical of some of the mayor’s policies and decisions, accusing him of neglecting the minority community.
“He needs to be held accountable just as any other politician or public figure out here,” said Parker, during an interview Thursday afternoon.
During that interview, Parker declined to talk about specific details of the incident. He also said he has cell phone video of the incident but he has declined to release that so far. He has said he was keeping that video to show in court.
According to the lawsuit, Parker claimed he was pushed and shoved by the mayor’s bodyguards and county council member Bethany Hallam.
The suit says one of the mayor’s bodyguards told Parker, “I’m bumping you now. What are you going to do about it?”
Parker said he replied, “Nothing.”
Earle: Were you aggressive? Did you initiate any contact with anyone?
Parker: No, not whatsoever.
The lawsuit said police chief Larry Scirotto then ordered his takedown and arrest.
Parker told Earle he suffered injuries when the two bodyguards swept him off his feet and jumped on top of him, tackling him to the ground.
“To my knees, to both of my knees and to the side of my head,” said Parker, as he described his injuries.
He said he is still recovering from those injuries.
As Parker was handcuffed and taken away by police, the lawsuit said the chief told him, “The show is over now B...(expletive).”
Parker was accused of shoving the mayor’s bodyguard and he was charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.
The charges were eventually withdrawn, and now Parker is fighting back, filing that federal lawsuit against the mayor, the police chief, the two bodyguards, another officer and county council member Bethany Hallam.
The lawsuit accuses them of using excessive force, false arrest, malicious prosecution and retaliation.
Parker said he hopes his lawsuit will bring about change.
“I would like to see accountability in the situation. I would like to see these people involved to revise the way they handle protesters here in the city of Pittsburgh,” said Parker, who indicated that the whole incident has had a chilling effect on his protesting. He said, however, that he would be back peacefully and non-violently protesting again very soon.
The mayor’s office and police declined to comment.
11 Investigates also reached out to council member Hallam but hasn’t heard back.
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