It was a frightening end to a Manhattan protest as a driver plowed his SUV through demonstrators, dragging a bicycle several feet. According to witnesses on the scene, no protesters were seriously injured, though EMS personnel were on the scene making sure bystanders were okay.
The incident happened at 42nd Street and First Avenue.
The march had begun at Washington Square Park and made its way throughout the city, stopping traffic and, at one point, preventing drivers from entering the Lincoln Tunnel.
The protesters were making their way across 42nd Street when the driver appeared to speed up, targeting cyclists and marchers.
One cyclist, Jeffrey, told NY1’s Ruschell Boone about the terrifying moments when the car pushed its way through the crowd.
“He didn’t stop,” Jeffrey said, “he literally put pedal to the metal and literally drove through the crowd. It was devastating.”
Jeffrey said he believed for a moment that the driver was coming for him, and did all he could to stop him from hurting the crowd of protesters.
“I rode beside the car and punched the car,” he said. “Luckily I didn’t injure my hand, but I punched the glass. You can imagine the speed he’s going, the intensity. I just wanted to protect the crowd.”
One of the protest organizers talked about what she witnessed.
“I see him drive by and I see four or five bikes being pushed to the point where it’s sparking on the ground,” she said. “I knew there was a family with a toddler. My first thought was, holy crap, I hope they didn’t just run this kid over.”
No one was seriously hurt. Protesters said the car tried to push by them as they blocked the streets.
The driver and the passenger told the NYPD they feared for their lives and that they had accelerated after being surrounded. The driver was released with no charges.
Thousands of marchers started out in Washington Square Park, then moved over to West 14th Street, Fifth Avenue, 34th Street, Times Square and then made their way to the East Side.
Despite a few tense moments, the protest had been mostly peaceful.
One organizer talked about why they took to the streets again despite having many of their demands already met in the city’s new budget.
“That was the catalyst,” he said. “The police video and everything that’s been happening set it off, but they need to realize that they woke up a lot of people into the fact that this is the type of racism that’s been happening for far too long. So, we’re not gonna be content and we’re not gonna be complacent with just a few things. We’re actually going after the entire system.”
The protest happened on what’s being called “Blackout Day,” when African American consumers and others are being asked only to patronize Black-owned businesses, to emphasize the power of the Black dollar.
The organizer said, while they are marching for systemic change, they are still supporting Blackout Day.
“We are joining that movement,” he said, “and we will make sure that the people understand that we’re aware of everything that’s going on. It’s not just protesting and making noise. We are in solidarity with the movement because our money really matters and we have to hit them where it hurts, and that’s in the pocket.”
After the incident with the SUV, organizers said they were calling it a night, and told protesters to go home.