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Local activist arrested at parade shares his side of story, witness recalls details from the arrest

PITTSBURGH — 11 Investigates is digging deeper after a former candidate for Allegheny County Executive was arrested.

Will Parker is charged with assaulting a Pittsburgh Police officer while trying to confront Mayor Gainey during the Juneteenth parade on Saturday.

RELATED COVERAGE >>> Pittsburgh activist facing charges after shoving officer, yelling at Mayor Gainey during parade

Chief investigator Rick Earle spoke with Parker after he was released from jail.

Parker denied any wrongdoing and said he has been an active protestor for years and says he knows the limits. Contrary to what police say, he contends he did not cross that line.

Juneteenth organizer B. Marshall said he was there when the confrontation happened and said he saw it all happen.

“I was part of it because I tried to stop it and the mayor said, ‘Just let him go, we’re going to proceed with the event,’” said Marshall.

Parker was handcuffed, arrested and hauled away by police just minutes later.

The CEO of the Black Political Empowerment project had some choice words for Parker.

“It was stupid. It should have never happened. It put a little blemish on something that’s never had a blemish,” said Tim Stevens.

Parker, who’s run for various political offices, including county executive, and is known for showing up at events with a bullhorn said that County Council member Bethany Hallam bumped into him several times and he told her to stop.

Parker says the mayor’s bodyguard then told him “I’m bumping you now. What are you going to do about it?” Parker said he replied, “Nothing.”

Court documents filed by police say, Parker, who had been verbally harassing the mayor, was repeatedly warned to back off. They say Parker told the bodyguard, “I will elbow you too,” and then shoved into him. The mayor’s other bodyguard then stepped in and took Parker to the ground.

“Will is a vibrant serious person, but this was not the opportunity to do that, at this event here,” said Marshall.

When Channel 11′s Chief Investigator, Rick Earle, asked Marshall if Parker deserved to be taken to the ground.

“If you are persistent and you won’t stop, they really don’t have a choice,” said Marshall.

Parker is charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.

In a tweet, he said he plans to file a lawsuit against the city.

Channel 11 reached out to Bethany Hallam multiple times but has not heard back.

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