Top Stories

Local councilmember says social media post calling for riots, showing burning cop car ‘taken out of context’

PITTSBURGH — An Allegheny County council member is defending a recent tweet, stating it was being taken out of context.

The Channel 11 newsroom received several calls and emails about a tweet from Bethany Hallam, who is a council member at-large and a member of the Allegheny County Board of Elections.

The tweet read, “Never burned a police car myself, but (expletive) yeah let’s riot against fascism.”

“I think it’s ridiculous. Of course, it’s taken out of context,” Hallam told Target 11′s Rick Earle.

Hallam, a Democrat, said she tweeted in response to a social media post by the Republican Committee of Allegheny County criticizing an upcoming voting rally sponsored by the Alliance for Police Accountability that showed an image of people burning a police car.

“Because of a graphic that was used by the organizers of the event that showed a cop car with flames behind it, he accused me and every other elected official whose name was on that list of advocating for burning cop cars,” she said.

On the post, the Republican Committee wrote, “Is this what you want more of? This group showing a poster of a police car on fire while people celebrate, all while claiming to defend democracy. The sitting at-large democrat on the Board of Elections openly advocating for rioting against ‘fascism’ (aka anything she doesn’t like.)”

“I’m a big fan of taking to the streets and disrupting what needs to be disrupted to fight fascism,” Hallam told Earle. “I absolutely think we need to take to the street if there is any effort by any party to not count every single vote”

Hallam said she was not advocating violence. She said in that tweet she was defending herself and other elected officials who she believes are being singled out by the Republican Committee.

She said she had no plans to resign after the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Union demanded she step down. The union president sent a letter to Channel 11 reading:

"Dear Council Member Hallam:

The Allegheny County Deputy Sheriffs' Association is requesting that you resign from your office as an Allegheny County Council Member based upon your recent conduct in recklessly distributing a call to ignite police cars on fire and to riot. On Sunday November 1st, you published the following tweet:

Never burned a police car myself!

But F[expletive] year let’s riot against fascism!!!

As an Allegheny County Council Member you are obligated to behave in a manner that models leadership, especially regarding the safety and protection of the County’s persons and property as well as the police officers, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, paramedics, and first responders who protect them. Your behavior in distributing a “call to arms” including the specific call to burn police cars and riot was dramatically beneath your office and frankly your responsibility as a human to refrain from causing harm to others. When police cars or any other property is ignited, there can be catastrophic consequences including explosions, structure fires, and of course death and serious bodily injury.

Most unfortunately, your conduct was also violated the oath that you supposedly embraced when you took office where you swore to “protect, defend and obey... the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” By tweeting a call to burn police cars and riot, you have fundamentally betrayed your oath.

Although it obviously never occurred to you, the spouses, children, and other loved ones of the Deputy Sheriffs worry every day and night when we leave for work wondering whether we will safely complete our shifts. Your recklessness has compounded these fears and risks exponentially.

When the Deputy Sheriffs go to work each day and night, they need to know that the County’s leadership desires and promotes their safety as well as they safety of the public. You have shown that you hold no such desire and that you are not fit to continue to hold your office. My members take no pleasure in asking you to resign, but your conduct has given us absolutely no choice."