PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Police announced the creation of a new task force after some local protests have turned violent.
Nine local, state, and federal agencies are making up this task force.
According to Pittsburgh Police, the task force is designed to look into protesters causing violence against private citizens, local journalists and local law enforcement.
The task force’s formal name is the Damage Assessment Accountability Task Force.
It comes after a week of mostly peaceful protests around the city.
“The DAAT will continue to review intelligence indicating planned 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.”
Hissrich says havoc was created last weekend by a small number of people who damaged 71 businesses, looted goods and left more than a dozen officers hurt after demonstrations turned to unrest, destruction and violence.
“It’s a catch-22 as we saw Saturday night. We were criticized for not acting fast enough. And on Monday night, we were criticized for acting too fast,” Hissirch said.
DAAT investigators are now combing through an overwhelming amount of first-hand accounts and video footage from the riots.
U.S. Attorney Scvott Brady said that “Any protestor who crosses this line should know we will use every tool at our disposal to find you and prosecute you.”
In the release, Pittsburgh Police said the taskforce had assisted in arresting Matthew Michanowicz after he allegedly left a backpack of explosives near a building.
Other arrests are expected.