Back on Dec. 17, we discussed the arrest of a 21-year-old Pittsburgh man in connection with an online video in which two men appear to threaten police officers. The man was accused of being one of the people in the video and was facing possible federal charges, perhaps including terrorism charges. In an update to that story, an 18-year-old man was arrested on Jan. 8, apparently on suspicion of being the other performer in the video, which the older man’s defense attorney said contained free speech protected by the First Amendment.
The video in question appeared on YouTube in November. According to prosecutors, it is a music video in which two men perform a rap song. The song include lyrics praising a Pittsburgh man who was convicted of killing three police officers in 2009 and threatening to target officers, “’cause they don’t do us no good.” Authorities claim that the song referred to specific Pittsburgh police officers by name. News reports about the case do not mention any harm coming to the officers.
The older suspect turned himself in on Dec. 11. Federal marshals arrested the 18-year-old on Jan. 8. It is not clear why the younger man was considered a fugitive who would require apprehension by marshals.
After the older suspect turned himself in, his attorney said that his client was being prosecuted over protected speech. The First Amendment’s free speech protection will likely be an issue in these prosecutions. Since the defendants are charged with federal felonies, they could face serious penalties if convicted.
Source: WPXI-TV, “2nd teen rapper jailed in anti-cop YouTube video,” Jan. 9, 2013