A Black Lives Matter organizer in Miami is facing felony charges after being accused of stealing a flag from a pro-Trump caravan, according to a Miami Heraldreport.
Jonathan Gartrelle, 31, was arrested on Monday night, and released early Tuesday after posting bond. He is charged with strong-arm robbery and escape, as well as misdemeanor counts of resisting an officer without violence and obstructing a public street.
According to the Herald, Gartrelle said the charges were “overblown” — and that he took two Trump flags from parked cars and threw them on the ground, never stealing them.
“Their goal is to have me in jail for two weeks, get beaten up by some officers, and distract from the movement,” Gartrelle said.
Police footage showed that Gartrelle was struck by a black SUV during the caravan on Saturday after stepping in front of the vehicle on the roadway.
A Miami police spokeswoman, Kiara Davila, told the Herald that Gartrelle refused aid and did not want to press charges.
“The police are not speaking to anyone or looking for any vehicles in reference to the incident,” Davila said.
According to a police report of the incident obtained by the outlet, a Miami police officer said he saw Gartrelle rejoin the crowd on the sidewalk after the incident, then go back into traffic and “was observed removing flags fixed to the passing vehicles, damaging them and discarding them in the roadway.”
The officer wrote that he tried to arrest Gartrelle, who ran away.
Later, a woman who had been in the passenger seat of a white Mercedes told police that Gartrelle was the one who ripped a flag from her hand, according to the report, though it did not identify what kind of flag she had been holding.
The arrest report noted that Miami police used videos on Gartrelle’s Instagram account to build a case against him, according to the Herald.
The identity of the driver in the black SUV remains unknown.
Gartrelle is demanding an investigation into the incident, according to a post on his Facebook page.
“If you’re in Miami, let’s find the guy who tried to run me over…I’d love to meet him,” Gartrelle said.
Supporters of Gartrelle have established a new advocacy group called Justice for Miami and are demanding prosecutors drop the charges against Gartrelle and other protesters.
In a statement, the group told the Miami Herald that “the police in Miami is threatening the victim of a potentially fatal vehicular assault with 30 years in jail simply because they disagree with the speech he’s constitutionally entitled to” and that “instead of offering help or pursuing the violent hit-and-run perpetrator, the police threatened to arrest Gartrelle for the damage his body caused to the vehicle caravan.”
Gartrelle and the Miami Police Department did not immediately return FOX News’ requests for comment.
Police have stepped up their arrests in recent weeks as civil unrest continues across the country sparked by the death ofGeorge Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis while in police custody on May 25.