A video surfaced on Twitter of a black SUV driving through a crowd of demonstrators at a protest for the death of George Floyd on Thursday night. In the video, the driver of the SUV turns into a crowded crosswalk. When the car exits the crosswalk, a pedestrian appears on the hood of the car as the driver attempts to speed off. After the pedestrian jumps off the hood of the car, the driver turns around to hit him with the SUV before reversing and speeding away. A number of protesters attempted to chase after the SUV, while others were recorded carrying signs that read “Black Lives Matter.” The video has been viewed over 2.6 million times.
In response to the video, Northern Colorado Community Mutual Aid and Defense tweeted two photos of the person they believe was driving the car.
The incident prompted numerous comments online, with some users claiming that the man on the hood of the car was damaging the driver’s property while others point out the driver went out of their way to hit the man after he had jumped down off the car.
It’s Unclear What Legal Action Will Be Taken Against the Driver
In Colorado, vehicular assault is defined as, “If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and this conduct is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault.” The legislation principally deals with driving under the influence. “Menacing” and “assault” laws in Colorado are much broader and can sometimes apply to incidents of aggressive driving or road rage, although the laws are often county-specific.
According to the Colorado Criminal Defense Blog, “assault charges are generally levied against individuals who intentionally or recklessly inflict bodily injury to another individual,” while, “menacing can, in layman’s terms, be described placing a fear of being assaulted in another person.” Menacing is a felony if the perpetrator uses a deadly weapon. Penalties include up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Tensions During the Rally Continued to Rise Despite Pleas from Public Officials for Peaceful Protest
In Colorado Governor Jared Polis’s response to the protest, he singled out the video, claiming he was “absolutely shocked.”
His statement was published in the Denver Post and reads:
Tonight is a very sad night for our state. While we are still uncovering all of the facts about what took place, a protest regarding the killing of George Floyd devolved into vandalism and violence, and I was absolutely shocked by video evidence of a motorist attempting to run over a protestor. Coloradans are better than this. I share the immense anguish we all feel about the unjust murder of George Floyd. But let me be clear, senseless violence will never be healed by more violence.
According to the Hill, tensions heated up between police and protesters as the day wore on. Around 5:30 p.m., witnesses say they heard six or seven gunshots near the Capitol, according to the Hill. According to the Denver Post, police say, “we do not at this point have any correlation to the protest or the protesters.”
“This evening, I joined protesters outside the Capitol in support of George Floyd who was murdered by the police in Minnesota,” State Rep. Leslie Herod wrote, adding, “Shots were fired into the peaceful protest. We will continue to make our voices heard and demand justice for Black communities. We will not be deterred by this unspeakable act of violence.”
According to the Hill, police fired tear gas and pepper spray at protesters around 9 p.m., and a few protesters were arrested, according to the Denver Post. The Hill also reported that protesters had blocked traffic near downtown Denver and some protesters smashed the windows of a Colorado State Patrol cruiser.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock urged Coloradans to peacefully protest, writing, “We must not turn on one another. We must stand united. The men and women of the @DenverPolice Dept. are not the enemy. For the last three months as we have weathered the storm of this terrible pandemic, they have put their lives at great risk protecting all of us.”