A Black Lives Matter organizer in Miami was arrested for stealing a flag from a caravan supporting President Trump, police said.
Jonathan Gartrelle, 31, was taken into custody by police Monday on felony charges of strong-arm robbery and escape, as well as misdemeanor counts of resisting an officer without violence and obstructing a public street in the Saturday incident, the Miami Herald reports.
Gartrelle, who has reportedly been a fixture at the city’s protests against police brutality in recent weeks, was struck by an SUV in the pro-Trump caravan when he stepped in front of the vehicle, but police said he didn’t want to press charges, the newspaper reports.
Gartrelle said Tuesday the four charges he now faces are “overblown” while claiming he swiped two Trump flags from nearby parked cars and tossed them to the ground — denying he stole anything.
“Their goal is to have me in jail for two weeks, get beaten up by some officer, and distract from the movement,” said Gartrelle, who was released from jail Tuesday after posting bond.
Police said Gartrelle told cops immediately after he was struck that he didn’t “want to do anything” in response to the incident and refused treatment at the scene.
“The police are not speaking to anyone or looking for any vehicles in reference to the incident,” Miami police spokeswoman Kiara Davila told the newspaper.
But Gartrelle has since reconsidered, he said, and wants police to track down the person behind the wheel of the black SUV.
WSVN reported Saturday that Gartrelle stepped in front of a black Mercedes-Benz SUV during the “Cubans for Trump” caravan that passed through downtown Miami. News cameras caught Gartrelle appearing to jump onto the car’s hood just before he was struck, the station reports.
Gartrelle, who was arrested Monday at another downtown protest, was spotted by officers “removing flags fixed to the passing vehicles” and throwing them onto the roadway, according to a police report obtained by the Herald.
An officer tried to take Gartrelle into custody, but he ran away, police said.
A woman later told police she was a passenger in a white Mercedes when Gartrelle ripped a flag from her hand, according to a police report that didn’t further elaborate on what the female victim was holding at the time.
Police investigators used videos from Gartrelle’s Instagram account to build its case against him, according to the police report.
A rally was held outside Miami police headquarters on Monday to draw attention to the incident, according to Gartrelle’s Instagram page.
A new advocacy group called Justice for Miami is now calling for prosecutors to drop all charges against Gartrelle, the Herald reports.
“The police in Miami is threatening the victim of a potentially fatal vehicular assault with 30 years in jail simply because they disagree with the speech he’s constitutionally entitled to,” the group said in a statement.
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