Local activist claims he’s being targeted, speaks exclusively to 11 Investigates

PITTSBURGH — A local activist arrested outside the City-County building in downtown Pittsburgh last week is speaking out to 11 Investigates.

Will Parker has been highly critical of Mayor Ed Gainey and he claims authorities are attempting to silence him.

Chief Investigator Rick Earle sat down with Parker and his attorney Thursday afternoon.

“I was surprised. I had no idea there was a warrant out for my arrest,” said Parker.

Parker, who’s run for Mayor and County Executive, believes he’s being targeted for speaking out.

At City Council last week, Parker spoke out about the Juneteenth controversy and the decision by the Gainey Administration to award the contract to Bounce Marketing over William B. Marshall, who brought the Juneteenth celebration to Pittsburgh and has run the event for more than a decade.

“Who are you all worried about sitting right with, (Mayor) Ed (Gainey) or the people you were elected to serve,” Parker told Council.

Just minutes after criticizing the Mayor, Parker was greeted by Pittsburgh Police on the way out of the City-County building, handcuffed and arrested on a defiant trespassing warrant filed by Carnegie Mellon University Police.

“It appears this is nothing more than retaliation for his views,” said Ryan Gailey, Parker’s attorney.

It’s the second time in less than a year that Pittsburgh Police have arrested Parker.

At the Juneteenth parade last year the Mayor’s bodyguards arrested Parker after claiming he harassed the Mayor and got too close.

Police said Parker would not listen to their commands.

All charges were eventually dropped and Parker filed a federal civil lawsuit against the city, accusing them of violating his constitutional rights.

Parker’s attorney said the latest arrest over a trespassing allegation was overkill.

“Mr. Parker is known, they could have easily sent him a summons,” said Gailey.

The Mayor’s office defended the police action outside the City-County Building.

“…once a warrant has been issued, we are charged with acting on it,” wrote the Mayor’s Communications Director, Maria Montano, in an email response to 11 Investigates.

That trespassing charge was filed by CMU Police after they removed Parker from a symposium last month and told him not to return to campus.

Parker said he went to the aviation and robotics symposium to network.

Earle asked if he caused any disturbances, and he said he did not.

Parker said police removed him from the hall and handcuffed him, but later let him go, after ordering him not to return to campus.

Later, according to the criminal complaint, CMU Police spotted him on a surveillance camera outside the University President’s home and filed a trespassing charge against him.

By the time Police arrived at the home, Parker was gone.

Parker said police had his email address and made no attempt to inform him about the warrant.

Attorney Gailey denied that his client engaged in defiant trespassing.

“I think the evidence is going to show in this matter that Mr. Parker was engaged in constitutionally protected activity. He went there to express a First Amendment-protected interest,” said Gailey.

Earle reached out to CMU for a comment but has not heard back as of this writing.

Earle did speak with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office and they say it appears police followed proper procedures in getting the arrest warrant.

Parker and his attorney said they are still in the process of gathering evidence, but they are considering filing additional lawsuits in light of this most recent arrest.

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