One woman was arrested after allegedly driving her car into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Manhattan Friday afternoon, injuring six, the New York police department (NYPD) said.
A group of marchers had taken to the streets to protest against the federal immigration authorities detaining people, and in particular to highlight a group of detainees that have resorted to a hunger strike in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) federal detention in New Jersey.
The car charged forward in a terrifying, lightning-quick sequence of events where eyewitnesses said protesters were sent “flying” and people were screaming and running in panic.
The woman in the car, Kathleen Casillo, has been charged with reckless endangerment. Casillo, 52, was released early Saturday and is due in court on 22 February, authorities said.
The NYPD said that they received a 911 call at 4.08 pm saying “multiple pedestrians struck” at the intersection of 39th Street and Third Avenue in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan’s midtown east.
When officers arrived at the scene, they encountered injured pedestrians whom they described as “conscious and alert in the roadway”. A preliminary police investigation revealed that the pedestrians hit were among those who had been protesting in the street, police said.
Accounts posted to social media recalled an alarming scene. Some said a stopped car, which police described as a black 2019 BMW sedan, was surrounded by protesters before suddenly lurching into the crowd – knocking over people and bicycles.
One video seemed to show a small group of protesters gathered around the sedan as it slowly neared the intersection, with one person apparently leaning over the front of the car Casillo was driving.
Then the car suddenly accelerated, knocking aside those blocking it, as well as people in the intersection as it sped forward for several yards.
Video taken from another side shows people running away, with one person falling over as the sedan shoves through. According to the Reuters news agency, there were around 50 people in the crowd.
Tom Ella, who recorded one of the videos showing this incident, claimed he heard the engine roar and then saw the car speed up.
“Just watching them actually hit people, it’s traumatizing, it’s horrifying,” he remarked.
Christian Resseguie, of Manhattan, told the New York Times that the group was chanting “Free them all, Free them now” about Ice detainees when he heard a vehicle rushing behind him. Suddenly, he realized that demonstrators were scattered across the intersection.
“I saw lacerations, broken bones,” he reportedly said. Resseguie claimed that those most impacted by the crash were the cyclists handlin… (Read more)