PITTSBURGH, PA (June 5, 2020)—The majority of the recent protests in the City of Pittsburgh have been peaceful, with only a small group of people intent on causing destruction.
The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, in partnership with multiple local agencies and the general public, has launched investigations into individuals within that small group—people who have attacked journalists, looted business, caused property damage and committed other crimes such as arson. The unified body overseeing these investigations—the Damage Assessment and Accountability Taskforce (DAAT)—was formed earlier this week.
In connection to this taskforce, police arrested Matthew Michanowicz, 52, of Duquesne Heights after police recovered a backpack with homemade explosives on Monday. After reviewing security camera footage, investigators determined Michanowicz placed the bag there on Sunday and then left. Pittsburgh Police are working in conjunction with federal investigators on the case.
“The DAAT will continue to review previous intelligence indicating past violence against property, journalists, private citizens and law enforcement,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “That intelligence includes online threats to damage and loot businesses, and detailed instructions on how to make a Molotov cocktail. These threats are real: On Saturday, a protester threw an improvised incendiary device at a Pittsburgh Police Officer near Mellon Square, which exploded on the ground and caused a nearby officer to suffer concussion-like symptoms. Police are actively investigating.”
The taskforce is also investigating the looting and/or vandalism of dozens of businesses in the city, and assaults on at least five journalists.
The City, Public Safety and Police Bureau have long held as a guiding principle the belief that all people have a fundamental right to protest peacefully, as is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Police will monitor all protests, try to anticipate the group’s movement and then close roadways in advance of the protesters in order to keep them safe. Law enforcement intervenes only when violence occurs and a gathering has been deemed unlawful. At that time, orders to disperse are issued.
DAAT is a multi-agency team comprised of local, state, and federal Law Enforcement partners, to include: Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, Allegheny County Police, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, FBI Pittsburgh, the US Attorneys Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The taskforce is interviewing witnesses and victims of crime and assessing all property damage related to the protests. They are analyzing digital evidence gathered from police body worn cameras, City cameras and all available private CCTV footage. More arrests are pending.
Members of the public can also help. Anyone wishing to share videos, photographs, or information can send it to DAAT@Pittsburghpa.gov, or call (412) 323-7800 and ask for the taskforce. Contributors will remain anonymous.