WATCH: Pittsburgh Cop Arrests Man for Criticizing his "Thin Blue Line" Face Mask

Carlos Miller

The cop did not appreciate being told his "thin blue line" face mask was disrespectful to the American flag.

A Pittsburgh police officer wearing a "thin blue line" face mask became enraged when a man told him his mask was disrespectful to the American flag, arresting the man on a series of contempt of cop charges.

But the arrest was caught on video and the cop is now under investigation.

The incident took place Sunday at a farmer's market where Pittsburgh police officer Paul Abel Jr. was working off-duty as a security guard, according to Trib Live.

Abel claims he was minding his own business when a 22-year-old man named Daniel Evan Holc approached him, telling him his mask was disrespectful to the flag. Abel claims he tried to ignore Holc but Holc continued to harass him about his mask.

Abel claims he only arrested Holc because he was blocking an exit. He also claims he found marijuana on Holc after searching him.

The video shows Abel was wearing his mask beneath the nose which makes it ineffective.

According to the press release from the city of Pittsburgh:

Just after noon on September 6, a Pittsburgh Police officer working an approved off-duty detail for City of Pittsburgh Special Events at the Squirrel Hill Farmer’s Market was approached by a male patron who informed him that his mask (thin blue line mask) was disrespectful to the American flag.

The officer, who was speaking with a Special Events employee at the time, told the man that he would have to agree to disagree. The man, who was exiting the market at the cordoned-off exit point, continued to make his point to the officer and wanted to show him something on his phone. The officer would not engage with him. At this point a line was building as the man was blocking the exit, preventing other customers from leaving, including a blind couple.

The Special Events employee informed the man that he was blocking the exit and he needed to move aside. He became agitated and raised his voice, tried to engage the officer further about the flag, and continued to refuse to move. The officer asked for his identification several times so he could cite him, but the man refused each time and continued to block the exit and shout profanities at the officer.

At this point the officer moved to physically arrest the male, who resisted, knocking the officer’s body worn camera into the street in the process. The male continued to resist arrest so the officer told him he would use his Taser if he did not comply. At that point, the man complied and put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed.

The events employee then retrieved the officer’s body worn camera from the street so he could reactivate it.

The officer retrieved the man’s wallet for identification and searched his backpack where he recovered marijuana, THC edibles, and drug paraphernalia. The man did not possess a medical marijuana card.

He was arrested and charged with Resisting Arrest, Defiant Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, and narcotics-related charges.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, the American flag "should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery" but police claim the thin blue line flag looks nothing like the American flag.

Comments (15)
No. 1-7

This cop is like someone having roid rage.


He was arrested under bunch fantasy land statutory codes, completely lacking in jurisdiction. Blatant false arrest, false imprisonment, Denial of Due Process of law, Deprivation of rights under color of law. Malicious prosecution. And the notice the mayor sent out to all the precincts was about nothing but the proper dress code with masks.
B.A.R. Association Municipal Terrorism at it's best.
Along with the city and cop, this guy should sue the piss out of the Farmer's Market for employing the costumed criminal.


A police officer moonlighting should not be covered by Police legal protection when dealing with the public. If he was doing private guard work then that is how he should be treated, not as a police officer.


looks like good solid po po work of a disobeying sccchit head


On video, the cop was told "You should be careful what you do now".
"... the arrest was caught on video and the cop is now under investigation."


U.S. Flag Code is for federal government. It does not apply to states(unless they impose it on their government property and or employees) or citizens.

Questions that need to be answered to form a legal opinion:

  1. Did the event staff have the authority to limit access to people who block the exit?
  2. Did the officer tell him to leave the premises?

Pennsylvania Law:

(b) Defiant trespasser.--

(1) A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:

(i) actual communication to the actor;

Typically this applies to the property. The officer would have had to tell the guy to leave and the guy would then have to refuse. "Go away" does not necessarily mean leave the property. If the officer was telling him to move to a different spot and the man does not comply, the officer would then have to tell him to leave the premises(property). If the man refuses to leave, then he can arrest for trespass. Since the officer was working for the event, it would be perfectly lawful for him to ask the man to leave for any reason. It might be a stupid thing to do, but it is and should be lawful. This assumes that the event holders have authority to restrict access to people in the event.

The officer says, "I told you to go away." "I told you to walk away, didn't I?"
The man says, "You told me to go away for what reason?" "Yes, but..."

By saying this the man is giving evidence that he heard and the officer did say what the officer claims he said. This is why you use your 5th amendment right to silence. The press release describes no crime that would warrant the initial arrest/detainment.

This is akin to arresting someone for violating TOS on a website(R.I.P. Aaron Swartz).

Even if it was lawful, the officer reacted unprofessionally at a minimum of at least two points and should be reprimanded.


This cop has a horrible history of abuse and complaints! Pittsburgh PD have failed to keep the public safe and he will do it again!

Cops Gone Rogue