Donald Trump has blasted Black Lives Matter protesters in Pittsburgh who were seen on video interrupting diners’ lunch and downing their beer branding them ‘thugs’ and ‘Biden voters’.
Cellphone footage taken Saturday shows a crowd taking over the outdoor dining space with one person, identified as Nique Craft, approaching the older couple’s table before drinking their beer in front of them.
Craft, who identifies as nonbinary, said Monday that the couple invited them over for a drink and to discuss the situation. But the elderly couple, who wish to remain anonymous, say that is not the case and instead say they want an apology from the protesters who surrounded them.
In a Facebook post Craft later said they would ‘rather die than apologize’ and complained of ‘Emmet [sic] Till level hate’.
In a interview with The Pittsburgh Current in June Craft told how they were adopted by a white woman. Craft said: ‘She thought if a black person just articulated well and wore a suit, you wouldn’t get shot. So I wasn’t raised with my heritage, and that was super irresponsible on her part.’
That same month Craft was accused of riot, harassment, and other offenses related to a protest in the city. Craft is said to have been part of a group who trapped patrons inside the 941 Saloon by duct-taping the front door shut, according to NPR.
In 2018 Craft was described as an ‘unemployed chef’ in an article about a former drug addiction. In it they said their ‘drug of choice is heroin’, describing jail time and being homeless.
They also referred to their adoptive white, German mother who ‘occasionally extolled the virtues of Hitler’, according to the article.
On Tuesday morning Donald Trump waded into the situation on Twitter, challenging his rival Biden to ‘utter the words, LAW & ORDER!’
The president wrote: ‘BLM Protesters horribly harass elderly Pittsburgh diners, scaring them with loud taunts while taking their food right off their plate. These Anarchists, not protesters, are Biden voters, but he has no control and nothing to say. Disgraceful. Never seen anything like it. Thugs!
‘….And because of weak and pathetic Democrat leadership, this thuggery is happening in other Democrat run cities and states. Must shut them down fast. Biden and his most Liberal in Senate running mate, Kamala, won’t even talk about it. They won’t utter the words, LAW & ORDER!’
Protester Craft, who was wearing a Nazi Lives Don’t Matter t-shirt, had told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the incident sparked when protesters marched through the area and three men shouted ‘Blue Lives Matter.’
It’s unclear if these men were diners or pedestrians in the area.
Posting to Facebook Tuesday Craft wrote: ‘My humor is petty. Since everyone wants to ignore the truth of what happened and now this lady is lying about it, I’m done retelling the assault that lead up to this. Or about this lady offering to buy me a beer.
‘That’s not the story anyone cares about. So, this beer, was terrible. It was worth every minute though. This lady said she wants me to apologize and I never ever ever will do that. I’d rather die.’
They added: ‘I used to be a terrible person. I can still be a horrible person, namely to people who are horrible to me.
‘I drank a beer for f***s sake. This is Emmet Till level hate I’m getting and it’s honestly scary given how that story ended.
‘No, I’m not comparing myself to him, I’m comparing the reactions of many to the same people who were responsible for his death.’
On Monday they wrote: ‘This old hueless broad asked if we wanted a beer, so she could chastise us on the tactics of self defense against a white male who came at me just swinging. When I drank the beer, the lady said, “go ahead, you can have it.”‘
Craft told the Post-Gazette that one man grabbed Craft’s hair and placed a hand on Craft’s chest, saying he was trying to stop a confrontation from happening.
After the initial confrontation Craft said that the older man seen in footage chastised protesters for their actions. But Craft claimed the man’s wife invited them over for a drink and to discuss the situation.
‘So, being a theatrical, snarky type of person that I am, I said that I don’t have time to wait for you to order another beer; I will take the one you have,’ Craft said.
The couple denied this was the case.
The unnamed pair told KDKA that they support the movement and were happy to see the earlier demonstrations, but said the group in the viral footage ‘is not part of that movement’.
They said that they kept quiet to avoid escalating the situation further, as one protester, identified as Lorenzo Rulli, told them ‘f**k the white people that built the system’.
In response to their drink being taken the couple say they do not want jail time for Craft but want the protester to ‘be accountable for her actions, apologize and to clean the mess up’.
Lorenzo Rulli, who wore a purple shirt and shouted at the older couple, said that the videos also didn’t show a number of agitators who harassed demonstrators that day.
‘We don’t target businesses,’ he told Post-Gazette. ‘Our restaurant industry in the city supports us very much.
‘We were talking to people that were talking to us. The beer that was consumed was an offer. The glass that fell was a mistake.’
He added that people at the restaurant were cheering for demonstrators, and he only approached the older couple after they disparaged him.
‘The reason I engaged the individual man and his wife is because … her husband called me “an embarrassment” and “disgusting,”‘ he said.
Police in Pittsburgh are said to have launched an investigation into the clip.
The demonstrations are in response to several black Americans who have died in police custody, with the recently shared footage of the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York in March, sparking the new wave of outrage.
Similar scenes have played out across the county with a diner in Washington D.C. last week cornered by a group of anti-racism protesters outside a restaurant. In another incident, diners in Rochester were also confronted by a large group of demonstrators.