By Nick Domenici
PHILADELPHIA – A confrontation between a bunch of so-called “vigilantes” and Black Lives Matters protestors morphed into an attack on a television journalist here.
George Graf, on or about June 1, was part of a mob that stood outside the 26th Police Precinct, brandishing bats, clubs, and other weapons during a Black Lives Matter demonstration. These individuals claimed they were there to defend the community from rioters.
Following the standoff between the two sides, physical assaults and violent threats ensued. Some of these threats were brought to the attention of the District Attorney’s Office through social media posts, videos, and photo evidence.
As a result of this incident, a journalist named Jon Ehrens was punched numerous times while he was on the ground. The unarmed man suffered a broken nose, fractured maxilla, and other facial injuries according to local investigators.
It was learned later that the victim’s wife was also attacked and suffered minor bruising from being pushed into some trash cans by the mob while intervening. No arrest was made at the scene, even with heavy police presence.
But the incident was captured on video, where Graf identifies and asks the off-duty journalist why he was filming the interaction between the two groups. Graf persists, as he decides to follow the WHYY journalist through the crowd.
According to surveillance video, Graf motions to his fellow mob to follow the journalist, and then the assault begins.
Graf, of Fishtown, Pennsylvania has been charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy to engage in aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment. Graf has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2007.
District Attorney Larry Krasner issued the following statement:
“I want to thank my office’s Special Investigations Unit for working non-stop to ensure that individuals who intimidated, harassed, or assaulted peaceful protesters and mere bystanders are identified correctly and brought to justice. You don’t get to call yourself a ‘vigilante’ when you are just committing crimes. You don’t get to say you are defending when you are initiating violence.
“I want to thank all of the brave Philadelphians who have come forward in recent weeks to share photo and video evidence with my Special Investigations Unit. We know there are more perpetrators of violence to be identified and brought in. Keep it coming. Taking the law into your own hands isn’t going to solve this social injustice.”
And it is clear that the local police department didn’t ask group for protection that night from protestors.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said, “we do not endorse or condone any form of vigilante justice.”
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