On Wednesday morning, Pittsburgh Police Commander Victor Joseph sent an email to the city’s detectives instructing them to begin preparing for a possible protest in the event the Trump Administration moves to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

In the email, which was obtained by local television reporter Marcie Cipriani, Joseph instructs the officers under his command to bring their riot gear to work for the foreseeable future.

MORE: Email warning police to be prepared with riot gear Incase Mueller is fired pic.twitter.com/U1QH25bNN7

— Marcie Cipriani (@MCipriani_WTAE) April 18, 2018

“There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller. This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing,” Joseph writes in his email. “Based on this information, beginning tomorrow, April 19 2018 all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice.”


Progressive groups began sounding the alarm over possible action by the White House to further impede Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation, after the FBI raided longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office, hotel room, and residence earlier this month.

MoveOn, for instance, says it has already collected more than 300,000 signatures from people who say they will attend one of more than 800 protests around the country in the immediate aftermath of a potential firing.

Police presence at large-scale protests — including the Women’s March in 2017 and last month’s March for our Lives — is not especially unusual. But riot gear has a tendency to lead to escalation, as it did in St. Louis, Missouri this past September, when police in riot gear moved to shut down an otherwise peaceful protest of a not-guilty verdict for a police officer who shot an unarmed black man in 2011.

Pittsburgh in particular has seen a recent rise in peaceful protests that turn violent. In 2009, police in riot gear were dispatched to manage a crowd of 10,000 peaceful protesters who marched during a G20 summit hosted in the city’s convention center. Students from the nearby University of Pittsburgh gathered to watch protesters, but were fired upon by riot police using beanbags, pepper gas, and sonic devices.


According to Cipriani, Pittsburgh’s mayor has since confirmed the authenticity of the email, and said the riot gear memo is “just precautionary.”

JUST IN: Just spoke to Mayor Bill Peduto, who confirms Pgh Police are preparing for possible protests. Peduto says the commander’s email asking for detectives to bring uniforms & riot gear starting tomorrow, is just precautionary #WTAE

— Marcie Cipriani (@MCipriani_WTAE) April 18, 2018

Though Joseph’s email only mentions Mueller’s firing, MoveOn and other groups have vowed to stage protests if the Trump administration fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as well, or if Trump issues pardons to anyone embroiled in the ever-expanding Russia investigation.

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