PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man already on probation for causing $14,000 worth of damage during window-smashing protests near the Group of 20 economic summit two years ago has been charged with resisting arrest and other crimes following an impromptu gay rights protest in the city.
David Japenga, 22, also was charged by city police Thursday with obstructing a sidewalk and failing to disperse hours after he was one of five people arrested in the Wednesday evening protest. Online court records don’t list an attorney for him.
A police news release said arrests were made when about 100 people blocked traffic and failed to disperse during the protest, which it said “appeared to be a rally against violence” toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Protest participant Lauren Jurysta, 23, told reporters for WTAE-TV and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper that the protest came together about 7 p.m. Wednesday through social media, text messaging and word of mouth. She contends it was prompted by an incident Tuesday night when a bar patron saw her holding hands with her girlfriend and threatened them with a gun and yelled sexual slurs, although police have said they don’t believe the women reported the incident then.
Instead, the protest occurred and “it was learned that there was no real leader or permit to hold this demonstration,” police said in the release, prompting officers to use a loudspeaker to explain to the protesters their “options for conducting a peaceful rally.”
Police said some protesters moved to nearby Friendship Park and demonstrated peacefully, while others became violent and chanted anti-police slurs, prompting the arrests of Japenga and the others, who are accused of ignoring police orders to stop blocking the sidewalk and street.
The Associated Press could not immediately locate a phone number for Japenga, who was sentenced in November to six to 18 months in jail to be followed by four years’ probation for his G20 activities. Japenga also was ordered to pay for windows he was convicted of smashing with a U-shaped bicycle lock during the summit protests on Sept. 24, 2009.
Japenga, of Pittsburgh, maintained his innocence even after he was convicted.
His defense attorney said police couldn’t confirm his identity because the vandal’s face was covered. But a state trooper who saw the windows being smashed testified he identified him by his body shape, his gait and his shoes.
Dozens of G20 protesters have federal civil rights lawsuits pending against the city, alleging an overzealous police response and, in some instances, wrongful arrests, but Japenga is not listed among the plaintiffs in online court records.