Protesters in Indiana and New York injured in alleged car attacks, days after Seattle demonstrator was killed
By Bill Hutchinson
Protesters were injured in New York and Indiana by drivers who authorities say appeared to deliberately target demonstrations just days after a Black Lives Matter march on a Seattle freeway turned deadly.
A demonstrator in Bloomington, Indiana, and two others in Huntington Station, on New York’s Long Island, were hurt Monday evening during peaceful protests, police said. The driver who allegedly ran over two people in New York was arrested, while police were still searching Tuesday afternoon for the operator of a red car who fled following the Indiana incident.
“This only fuels our fire even more. I promise you I’ll be right back out here [Tuesday],” Patrick Ford, one of the organizers of the Bloomington civil unrest, told ABC affiliate station WRTV in Indianapolis.
Ford said several hundred protesters had gathered in downtown Bloomington to demonstrate and show support for Vauhxx Booker, a Black civil rights activist and a member of the Monroe County, Indiana, Human Rights Commission, who said he was attacked on the Fourth of July by a group of white people who shouted racial slurs and called for someone to “get a noose.” The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement is investigating the attack that was caught on cellphone video and has gone viral since being posted on social media.
Booker was let go after a group of people intervened and filmed part of the attack.
Ford said Monday night’s incident unfolded as the protest in front of the Monroe County Courthouse was ending.
Bloomington police said that about 9:26 p.m., officers were called to the area after getting a report of a personal injury crash, and upon arriving learned a vehicle that injured protesters had fled the scene.
Protester Geoff Stewart, 35, told WRTV that the suspect was driving a red four-door Toyota. He said he asked her to wait to drive in the area until demonstrators cleared the street.
“A woman driving in the vehicle had come up to the stop and had started revving her engine towards us and we tried to stop her and let her know that crowd is clearing up [and] just wait a second,” Stewart said. “But she and her passenger both wanted to go right away.”
He said the car began to nudge into him and another protester who was in front of the vehicle with her hands on the hood of the car. He said he and the other protester jumped on the car as the driver accelerated around a vehicle blocking the street in support of the demonstration.
Stewart said he grabbed onto the driver’s side door, while the other protester jumped on the front of the hood.
“I was trying to block her vision so she would slow down,” Stewart said. “I tried to pull myself as far into her way to kind of obstruct her view, but she drove through red lights and made her turn up here that threw both of us off the car.”
The Bloomington Police Department said the other protester, described as a 29-year-old woman, suffered lacerations to her head and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she was treated and released.
Police said witnesses provided them with a license plate number for the car and several videos of the incident.
Ryan Pedigo, a Bloomington police captain, told ABC News Tuesday afternoon that police are still searching for the vehicle and attempting to identify the driver and her male passenger.
The Long Island incident happened around 6:45 p.m. Monday during a Black Lives Matter protest in Huntington Station.
Suffolk County Police said they arrested the driver who allegedly hit two people taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest.
Police said Anthony Cambareri, 36, of Coram, New York, drove into the protesters hurting them as they and others participated in a demonstration on the street. The two victims were taken to Huntington Hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The driver sped away, but police caught him a short time later.
Cambareri was arrested on charges of third degree assault. He was issued a desk appearance ticket and will be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip at a date yet to be determined.
The incidents in New York and Indiana came just three days after a protester was killed and another was injured when a car barreled into a Black Lives Matter protest on a closed freeway in Seattle.
Protester Summer Taylor, 24, was killed early Saturday on Interstate 5 in Seattle. Demonstrator Diaz Love, 32, was seriously injured in the episode that occurred about 1:40 a.m., according to police.
The driver, Dawit Kelete, 27, who is Black, allegedly got onto the freeway by going the wrong way on and off ramp, police said. Surveillance video showed the white Jaguar Kelete speeding and swerving around a vehicle blocking the roadway in support of the protest before striking Taylor and Love, police said.
State police said the suspect continued to drive south on the freeway and was chased by a demonstrator in a car for about a mile before the protester managed to get in front of the Jaguar and force it to pull over.
Kelete was arrested on suspicion of vehicular assault. He appeared in court on Monday and a judge set his bail at $1.2 million.
He remained in custody on Tuesday at the King County Jail, according to online jail records.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is expected to file formal charges against Kelete by Wednesday afternoon.