Accused Black Bloc Protester Talks to SF Weekly

Categories: Local News
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Michael Pellagatti
Earlier this week, SF Weekly published a story about the 20 people arrested in Saturday's protest. Police had identified the protesters as "self-described Black Bloc members," the group of anarchists who claim responsibility for the vandalism during Occupy protests.

But the story, and the publication of the mugshots, created outrage and a string of angry letters and comments from readers. One of those arrested, 25-year-old Michael Pellagatti, called SF Weekly to explain exactly what happened -- and set the record straight by claiming that he is in no way affiliated with the Black Bloc.

In fact, Pellagatti says he's a independent journalist from New York City who tours the nation live-streaming protests (you can see his portfolio here). After reading about the planned protest in San Francisco on Saturday, he decided to hop a plane to the West Coast.

The protest was an anti-Columbus Day demonstration, for which police claim the protesters had no permit. The demonstration reportedly drew a crowd of about 100 people, including Pellagatti, who says he was filming less than a block away from the protesters when the chaos broke out.

"I was on the sidewalk legally, following all the rules and police orders, and I was streaming the protests, sticking to the sidewalk," he tells SF Weekly. "I can't recall any specifics, but there was a lot of craziness and back-and-forth between protesters and police. I can't say for sure who was to blame."

Pellagatti says he heard a loud sound; police tossed their bikes down on the ground and charged into the streets where the protesters were. Pellagatti started running, but dropped his phone. He shuffled back to pick it up and was "kneed in the head."

"The next thing I knew I was under arrest," he says. You can see his livestream and the arrest here.

He was handcuffed and put in the paddywagon with 19 other alleged protesters, where they sat sweating before being hauled to jail. Pellagatti, who emphasizes he was wearing a gray sweater at the time of his arrest, not a black one, was arrested on suspicion of inciting a riot and conspiracy to commit a crime. "I don't know what they base that on," he says.

SF Weekly spoke with police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy who tells us he didn't know anything about a journalist being among the group arrested, but that all were "charged with inciting a riot and their actions that day confirm that." Shyy says that many of the protesters are possibly linked to the Black Bloc, but he can't confirm for sure if those arrested were part of the anarchist group.

Police did claim that protesters had tossed bags of rocks and projectiles at them.

Michael's father, John, says he saw the video of his son's arrest and immediately flew from New York to San Francisco, where he shelled out $36,000 in bail money. Pellagatti was scheduled to be arraigned today; however, Pellagatti called back later in the afternoon to tell us the DA dropped the charges against him. Alex Bastian, spokesman for the DA's Office, confirmed that the charges had been dropped "due to insufficient evidence."

That's good news for the Pellagattis, who were prepared to file a lawsuit against San Francisco Police.

"SFPD put him up as Black Bloc member or this bullshit radicalism that he's not part of," the elder Pellagatti says. "The goddamn kid is a lector at church on Sundays back home."


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50 comments
FactualNewsNet
FactualNewsNet

@FightRealCrime @CarrieM213 @OccupyWallStNYC @Occupied_Air I hope Mike sues the piss out of them.

Ciaran
Ciaran

I find it disingenuous of the media and police to consistently refer to the tactic of a black block as a "group" of "anarchists." Black block tactics, note TACTICS, are used by many people worldwide for many purposes. This iteration of the tactics has certainly become commonplace over the course of the past year nationwide, but it is a tactic, not a group. It really bothers me that the media and police continue to portray protesters who use that tactic as a "gang" (San Francisco Chronicle) or "members" of some sort of imaginary "group." There is no organized group, it is not a gang. It is ridiculous that this continues to be portrayed in such a manner, and it is plain poor journalism.-An upset journalist. 

clsweetman
clsweetman

Really, all of you know nothing about this streamer & make accusations about him - really - does that make you any better than SFPD arresting an innocent man?  Watch how to behave @ a protest from anonymous & learn what trouble you have caused yourselves and other innocent people!  Michael is NOT and has never been anything but a honorable streamer. He covered the RNC, the DNC & walked with the protesters the 99 Mile March.  What have you done that is as productive?  Watch this video and learn how to behave.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUGaiQU49lY&feature=youtu.be

davidcolburn
davidcolburn

@garonsen So SFWeekly follows up w/more lazy reporting. & buries lede, which is SFPD admitting they arrested & smeared ppl indiscriminately.

John LaForgia
John LaForgia

"Snitch"? What is this, middle school?! If people were doing stupid shit, and he tells the police who and shows them video, good on him. Better yet, tell the media...so the public can know who to blame. Jackasses. For the right or wrong reasons, people need to be held accountable for being stupid. Let the lawyers and the courts sort it out. Sidenote: the other article that put these suspects mug shot up was also stupid. Suspects are suspects only, and if in custody already, no reason to release mugs and sully their reputations. No good on the police and SFWeekly for posting/releasing their mugshots like that. If the suspects are already in custody, there's no need for it until proven guilty...THEN they can be strung up by the nipples for the world to see. ;-)

sf0rion
sf0rion

@zunguzungu Also appalling how little effort a "local" rag makes in understanding the *most* basic framing/language used by victims.

lobeline
lobeline

@OakScott that guy is the streamer from back east right? He is a fucking douchebag snitch.

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@lobeline how come as East Coaster I know all bout Willie4Real, PunkBoy, Bella, Courtney, etc.&you miss Wise mouth B1tch don't know Michael

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@lobeline in another post you said you had never heard of him! You are making up stuff! I have watched Michael for many months U R AN A55

OakScott
OakScott

@lobeline Yeah he is a streamer from back east, according to the article, I never heard of him though.

lobeline
lobeline

@OakScott idk if he actually incriminated anyone but he obviously doesn't care if he does

lobeline
lobeline

@OakScott he said he would film people doing anything & per ppl arrested said he didn't care if his film hurt ppl & talked to cops

jaxREVOLUTION
jaxREVOLUTION

@lobeline because he is a member of the press andTHatIsProtectedUnderThe1stAmmendment. SryDoing shit like throwing paint at cops isn't

jaxREVOLUTION
jaxREVOLUTION

@lobeline wake up you have no sea what you are referring to. People called the DA saying demanding the bullshit charges be dropped

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@lobeline Another false assumption put out in writing in public, SLANDER! Look it up

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@lastellanera doesn't stand in solidarity with VIOLENCE is more like it! Did you know I was 1st witness Against OPD over Scott Olsen!

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@lobeline Michael does NOT stream people up close without consent! You said you don't know him, so stop making up lies

lastellanera
lastellanera

@Connie111sweet @lobeline it's not slander if its true. He talks to cops, doesn't stand in solidarity = snitch.

lobeline
lobeline

.@Connie111sweet he films ppl w/out consent putting them at risk & ppl tell the DA about it? And that's good? You're a fucking idiot.

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@lobeline Did you know that the DA got over 1,000 calls from Michael's viewers pointing them to over 1,000 hrs of streaming? Stop Slandering

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@OakScott You are trusting people who may be good hearted but are jumping to the wrong conclusion. Michael is a wonderful guy!

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@socialistlib510 Why don't you ask PunkBoy who asked him to cover this because PunkBoy was sick?

OaklandElle
OaklandElle

@Connie111sweet First of all, slander clearly doesn't mean what you think it means. Second, that guy is an ass. @lobeline

socialistlib510
socialistlib510

@OakScott his story seems weird. he came from NY for that? it wasn't a huge event.

lastellanera
lastellanera

@Connie111sweet @lobeline errr, just cuz you were on yr watching a livestream doesn't mean you know what happens when cameras are off.

OakScott
OakScott

I don't know him or you but I know and trust the people telling me this @Connie111sweet

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@lobeline Wow! didn't know you were going out to the world You are such a STUPID LIAR! Stop Slandering streamer who was there for that march

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@OakScott You say you don't know him but believe these lies - that is really smart!

Connie111sweet
Connie111sweet

@lobeline U were there? I was on his stream from start to finish! U R a Liar!

ProjectCambio
ProjectCambio

@socialistlib510 @marymad @OaklandElle @lobeline @outmouth @OakScott SF Chronicle: 901 Mission St...

socialistlib510
socialistlib510

@marymad @OaklandElle @lobeline @outmouth @OakScott @ProjectCambio SF Weekly: 55 Francisco Street

ProjectCambio
ProjectCambio

@OaklandElle @marymad @lobeline @outmouth @OakScott Done, and done.

outmouth
outmouth

@OaklandElle @marymad @lobeline @OakScott @ProjectCambio I thought that joak had been made, but if not, LOL at snitches in The Snitch.

marymad
marymad

@OaklandElle @lobeline @outmouth @OakScott @ProjectCambio that's one wet snitch.

OaklandElle
OaklandElle

@marymad @lobeline @outmouth @OakScott @ProjectCambio can we PLEASE giggle at their blog being called "The Snitch" PLEASE?!

outmouth
outmouth

@lobeline @OakScott @ProjectCambio [no comment]

marymad
marymad

@lobeline @outmouth @OakScott @ProjectCambio my pocket says sf weekly is a mouthpiece for the cops.

lobeline
lobeline

@outmouth @oakscott @projectcambio sorry that was a pocket tweet

lobeline
lobeline

@outmouth @oakscott @projectcambio

marymad
marymad

@OakScott @ProjectCambio @lobeline LOLOLOLOL

outmouth
outmouth

@lobeline @OakScott @ProjectCambio haha. I saw these comments first at SF Weekly and thought "does everyone have an account here too?"

lobeline
lobeline

@OakScott @projectcambio haha I did not know that. Now my scintillating commentary can reach a wider audience of news site trolls

OakScott
OakScott

@ProjectCambio @lobeline Wow. Hi SF Weekly, you useless piece of shit!

ProjectCambio
ProjectCambio

@OakScott @lobeline Just as an FYI, all these comments show up on the article page.

Mis5_Nomer
Mis5_Nomer

@OakScott @lobeline per folx arrested with him, he was also screaming for jesus to save him from the police. 1st sign of poss. snitchcraft

OakScott
OakScott

@lobeline Ah, I see. I was not paying any attention to that discussion and I don't follow him on Twitter. Anyway, fuck that guy.

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