Black Lives Matter activist arrested during Center City protest

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Black Lives Matter leader Asa Khalif is shown being detained at the US Attorney’s office in Center City on 600 block of Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Monday, November 13, 2017.

Asa Khalif, a Philadelphia-based Black Lives Matter activist and frequent anti-police demonstrator, was arrested Monday inside the Center City branch of the Attorney General’s Office while staging a loud and profane protest about a police-involved shooting the office is investigating.

Joe Grace, spokesman for the AG’s Office, said Khalif damaged a door and exhibited “unacceptable and threatening behavior” as he demanded to speak to staffers about the fatal shooting of David Jones, who was killed by a Philadelphia police officer in June.

Khalif and another demonstrator, Isaac Gardner, posted separate videos of the demonstration on their Facebook pages. Khalif can be seen pounding on an office door and shouting profanities at staff members in the lobby of the office along 12th Street.

He was taken into custody after several minutes, according to Gardner’s video, but continued hurling insults while he was handcuffed and led out of the lobby.

It was not immediately clear what charges Khalif would face. Grace referred that question to Philadelphia police, who he said made the arrest. A police spokesman contacted Monday afternoon said he did not yet have information about the case.

Grace, in a statement, said: “The Attorney General strongly supports and protects the right to protest. Those protests cross a line, however, when property is destroyed and individuals engage in threatening behavior.”

Christopher Norris, who also frequently demonstrates with Khalif but was not with him Monday, said in a statement the charges were expected to include institutional vandalism, trespassing, and resisting arrest — charges he questioned while linking to Gardner’s video.

The demonstration was a continuation of the provocative tactics Khalif and others have employed since Jones was shot June 8 as he ran from an officer after being stopped in North Philadelphia.  They have previously disrupted city news conferences, blocked traffic outside police stations, and protested and hung posters outside the Bustleton home of Ryan Pownall, the officer accused of pulling the trigger.

That final act prompted an angry response from John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the police officer’s union. He called Khalif and his fellow protesters a “pack of rabid animals” during a rally at FOP headquarters.

The AG’s Office is continuing to investigate the shooting, Grace said.

Pownall was fired in September for what Commissioner Richard Ross said was a host of departmental violations.