Blog

Protesters Who Become Rioters are Likely to Face Criminal Charges

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jun 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

In recent weeks, news across the country and even around the world has been consumed with protests in response to a police officer in Minneapolis killing George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, by kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes.

People everywhere were outraged by a video of Floyd's death that was shared online and, seeing his death as the last straw after years of anger, protestors began filling the streets. However, what began as peaceful protests turned into violent riots in many cities, especially Philadelphia. Rioters destroyed private businesses, public buildings, public spaces, and vehicles by smashing glass with rocks and bricks, starting countless fires, and spray painting graffiti, often with no rhyme or reason for the targets they chose.

In Philadelphia, the shopping district west of City Hall extending to the Rittenhouse Square was a particular scene of devastation. Dozens of stores were destroyed by looters who smashed the windows and stole the merchandise and by the fires rioters set and the water firefighters used to extinguish the fires. The damage was tremendous and shocking.

In Pittsburgh, law enforcement officers arrested a young white man named Brian Bartels and charged him in federal district court with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder. Bartels was caught after a co-worker recognized him in a photo circulated online in which he is seen deliberating damaging a police car.

Bartels admitted to an FBI investigator that he planned to engage in riotous activities and that he prepared for the protest by filling his backpack with several cans of spray paint and several rocks. He described himself to the investigator as ‘far left,' and said that he had become fed up with incidents involving police mistreatment of citizens.

Video from the protest shows Bartels throwing rocks at the police SUV, flashing obscene gestures to the protesters who were trying to stop him, reaching into his backpack, taking out a can of red spray paint, and painting the police SUV with it, while other protesters yelled at him to stop.

Bartels, who is 20 years old, may have believed he was embarking on a righteous cause when he loaded his backpack with items he intended to use for destruction of property, but the law does not see it that way. Bartels has been charged with a federal crime—a felony— for which the punishment is up to a $250,000 fine and five years in prison.

If convicted, he could very well serve time in federal prison and then be required to pay off a potentially steep fine for many years following his release. At that point, he'll be a convicted felon and may find it quite difficult to find employment. All to say, his plan to wreak havoc and act on his frustrations will very likely haunt him for the rest of his life, and will almost certainly plague him for the next decade.

The First Amendment protects the rights of Americans to peacefully protest—and that's a wonderful thing. But if a protester crosses the line from peaceful protest into destroying property and endangering others' lives, criminal law and criminal punishments apply.

Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has been defending clients accused of crimes for many years in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania and he achieves great outcomes often in the face of long odds.  Contact attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or online if you or a loved one is facing criminal charges.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience fighting for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, as well as New Jersey. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being.

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

footer-2.jpg

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

Menu