Erie Co. Democratic leader says city needs to ID cop in viral kicking video and hold them accountable

    ERIE, Pa. — Erie County’s Democratic Party chairman has called on city officials to identify and hold accountable the police officer who kicked a protestor while they were on the ground during Saturday’s protest. 

    “Violence without justice is tyranny,” local party boss Jim Wertz said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “Whether it is exacted from behind a mask or from behind a badge, violence must be condemned and the perpetrator must be held accountable.” 

    The northwestern Pennsylvania city made national headlines after a three-second clip of a city police officer kicking an incapacitated protester during a demonstration late on Saturday night went viral.

    On Monday, Wertz’s fellow Democrat, Mayor Joseph Schember, condemned the violence that rocked the city over the weekend.

    “Let me state this plain and simple,” Schember said in a joint news conference with Erie Police Chief Daniel P. Spizarny Sr. “The actions of the police officer and some of the rioters were wrong and do not reflect who we are in Erie.” 

    The officer caught on video assaulting the 21-year-old protester — who was already on the ground after being maced — has not been identified. Nor does Spizarny plan to, he said Monday. 

    Schember said there will be a “full investigation” of the incident, as well as the police department’s management of Saturday’s unrest. 

    Wertz’s letter echoes a similar call made over the weekend by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who tweeted: “This level of unnecessary use of force, along with all other instances of it across Pennsylvania yesterday, is unacceptable and diminishes us all. This officer needs identified and held accountable.”

    “No human deserves to be blindly abused in the name of law and order,” Wertz said.  

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    John L. Micek
    A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press