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Pa. mayor’s home picketed, calls for him to resign over protester’s ‘kidnapping’ by plainclothes cops in unmarked van

A Democrat mayor is facing protests at his home and calls for him to resign after a controversial arrest.

It is all happening in Pittsburgh, where Mayor Bill Peduto is suddenly in the hot seat in wake of the weekend arrest of a 25-year-old male protester, who was taken away by plainclothes city officers in unmarked white van on Saturday.

As KDKA-TV reports, about 150-200 protesters gathered outside of Mayor Bill Peduto’s home on Sunday to voice their concerns and air calls for Peduto’s resignation over what some are now calling “a kidnapping.”

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At one point, protesters began chanting for the removal of Mayor Peduto with chants of, “hey, hey, ho, ho, Mayor Peduto has got to go.”

For his part, Peduto has expressed his concerns about the arrest, holding a press conference Saturday and saying in part:

“I was very uncomfortable. I saw it like anybody else saw it: Why are we having plainclothes officers in an unmarked vehicle arrest somebody through a ‘pop-out tactic?’ “

TribLive in Pittsburgh described the arrest this way:

The arrest of 24-year-old Matthew Cartier came several hours into a protest that began about 3:15 p.m. on Walnut Street in Shadyside. Social media video showed officers not in uniform emerge from an unmarked van and pull Cartier inside.

Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Ed Trapp accused Cartier of blocking an intersection unnecessarily, stepping in front of cars and attempting to direct traffic during the protest.

Trapp said officers — including Sgt. Donald Mitchell of the Civil Affairs Unit — asked Cartier to move the line of bicycles he was directing out of the intersection. Cartier allegedly refused to do so multiple times before his arrest, police say.

But protesters say police crossed the line and were using force to intimidate them. Some of them have called Cartier’s arrest “a kidnapping.”

Beth Pittinger, executive director of the Independent Citizen Police Review Board in Pittsburgh, told this to KDKA:

“What they did was sneaky, it’s questionable as to its legitimacy. You have officers in plainclothes in an unmarked vehicle. Those are not tactics to be used in the city of Pittsburgh.”

The city’s public safety department said it employed a “low-visibility” tactic to make the arrest.

“When high-visibility stuff takes place with these marches, it tends to attract a crowd and incite things further,” Trapp was quoted by TribLive as saying about the arrest tactics.

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