The driver of a car that plowed into a crowd of Black Lives Matter demonstrators in New York City reportedly attended a Keep America Great counterprotest just hours earlier.
The man – who has not yet been publicly named – was caught on camera driving his black Ford Taurus sedan into the crowd in Times Square shortly after 8pm on Thursday evening.
NBC quotes police sources as saying the driver was ‘was found to be a part of the Keep America Great rally’ and that the group had ‘exchanged heated words’ with the BLM supporters.
Photographs taken at the time show cops trying to keep the two groups apart.
The sources also shut down speculation that the man was an undercover cop driving an unmarked police car.
Video posted to Twitter shows a man in an American flag t-shirt being bundled into the back of the black vehicle shortly before it sped into the crowd. Police were seen shutting the door of the car, but they may have simply been trying to have the Keep America Great counter-protesters leave the area after tensions flared.
The NYPD said no one was hurt during the incident, and they are currently investigating.
Cell phone footage taken Thursday night shows a group of Black Lives Matter protesters standing in front of a black vehicle
The black vehicle accelerates through the crowd, stops briefly and then leaves the scene as protesters call for medics
NBC quotes police sources as saying the driver was ‘was found to be a part of the Keep America Great rally’ and that the group had ‘exchanged heated words’ with the BLM supporters. Photographs taken at the time show cops trying to keep the two groups apart
Police had to separate Black Lives Matter supporters and Keep America Great counter-protesters as tensions flared in Times Square
Footage shared by DataInput on Twitter shows hundreds of protesters grouped together in Times Square to protest the death of Daniel Prude – a 41-year-old black man who suffocated to death while in police custody.
Video shows the sedan arrive at an intersection with a group of people on bicycles attempting to stop it from moving forward as the crowd walks across the street.
However, the car briefly drives forward, pushing the group of protesters back, before suddenly accelerating into the crowd.
Screams echo through the crowd as people try to maneuver out of the way and bikes scatter along the street.
The vehicle stops for just for a moment before speeding off and out of the area.
The New York Police Department said on Twitter that the vehicle in question was not an official department car
Also- anyone trying to suggest this wasn’t NYPD- here’s a video of them escorting MAGA counter protesters from times sq moments before the the same car ran through a line of peaceful protesters pic.twitter.com/lJ24iLBUQd
— ACG (@aaroncostaganis) September 4, 2020
The department said that no complaints or injuries had been reported around 10pm, but photos and witnesses at the scene said some people sustained minor wounds.
Additional footage shared by Gwen Hogan with the Gothamist shows people calling out for medics as people moan in pain.
At least one man was bandaged at the scene and other photos showed people with bruises.
‘I’m in shock. I’m just happy to be alive right now,’ Lora Gettelfinger, a 33-year-old protester who was struck in the leg by the car, told Gothamist.
The small group of counter-protesters draped American flags around their shoulders as they headed out to Times Square. One wore an ‘All Lives Matter’ t-shirt
Police said the incident may be related to a disagreement between the two groups, but this has not yet been confirmed
Qaaree McDaniel said he was assigned as ‘security detail’ for the protest when the unidentified driver plowed through the crowd.
‘I saw people getting hit, so I’m trying to get out of the way. Luckily I made it out just in time, but the car hit my bike, and my bike hit both of my legs,’ said McDaniel, 23.
He noted that authorities at the scene reportedly had a blasé reaction to the incident.
‘Just seeing how cops reacted, how they were so passive about it, it goes to show you where they stand,’ McDaniel added.
A man has his hand bandaged after a car carrying counter protestors fled the scene and drove through a crowd blocking the road during a protest for Daniel Prude and Black Lives Matter in Times Square, Manhattan, New York
One woman assesses her injuries after being hit by a car during a Black Lives Matter protest in Times Square
Qaaree McDaniel: ‘I saw people getting hit, so I’m trying to get out of the way. Luckily I made it out just in time, but the car hit my bike, and my bike hit both of my legs’
The Black Lives Matter protesters regrouped after the incident and continued marching towards Columbus Circle.
In a second video taken by DataInput, protesters at Columbus Circle claimed a someone in a different vehicle at the scene had a gun.
The handgun is not visible in footage online, but DailyMail.com has reached out to the NYPD for confirmation.
Authorities told ABC 7 that episode may have involved demonstrators from a pro-Trump rally and Black Lives Matter supporters.
Thursday’s protest in New York City was in response to the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old black man who suffocated to death while in police custody
A number of counter protesters, several carrying American flags, were seen at the demonstration as well.
Thursday night’s commotion mirrors that of a similar incident in Aurora, Colorado, where a Jeep sped through a large Black Lives Matter protest on a blocked highway.
The scene turned chaotic after the blue Jeep crashed into another vehicle and one man in the crowd opened fire on I-225 earlier this year.
During the incident, several demonstrators were forced to flee from the Jeep and one woman appeared to fall 20 feet off the side of the highway to dodge the vehicle.
Three New York City officials have spoken out to condemn the footage and request the New York Police Department hold the driver accountable.
Some New York City officials have spoken out after footage of the incident was shared to social media Thursday evening
Senator Brad Hoylman was among other politicians who demanded the NYPD investigate the matter
Keith Powers: Using a vehicle to hurt peaceful protestors is unacceptable and must be stopped
‘This video shows an incredibly reckless and disturbing action through a lawful protest,’ wrote Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
‘We must get to the bottom of it. We need accountability.’
Senator Brad Hoylman also called the incident ‘disturbing’ and said: ‘We have asked the City directly as to the identity of the driver and its investigation.’
Hoylman added that since July 6, there have been at least 66 incidents of cars ramming into Black Lives Matter protesters.
Council member Kieth Powers said: ‘Using a vehicle to hurt peaceful protestors is unacceptable and must be stopped.’
The Black Lives Matter protest on Thursday joined several others around the country after Daniel Prude died in March, but footage of the incident resurfaced this month.
Daniel Prude was left brain dead after the incident and later died on March 30 after he was taken off of life support – seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester
Prude was left brain dead after his March 23 encounter with Rochester PD. He died seven days later when he was taken off life support.
Prude’s brother Joe had phoned 911 for assistance as his sibling began suffering a mental health episode.
Prude, who had been visiting Rochester from his hometown of Chicago, walked out of Joe’s house at around 3am in frigid temperatures, wearing only underwear, a tank top and socks.
While the fatal incident occurred on March 23 – weeks before George Floyd would die in Minnesota police custody in May, sparking nationwide protests – Prude’s death received no public attention
As he made his way through the neighborhood, he started removing his clothes. Police claim he also smashed windows. Several other people encountered him, with at least one calling 911 to report his erratic behavior.
Officers placed a hood over his head and pressed his face into the pavement until he stopped breathing.
His family shared video of his final moments to the public this week, prompting Mayor Lovely Warren to suspend all seven officers involved in the death.
The Monroe County medical examiner ruled his death a ‘homicide caused by complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint’. The report also listed excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or PCP, as contributing factors.
‘I have never shied away from taking action and holding our police — or anyone that fails in their duties in our community — accountable,’ Mayor Warren told reporters Thursday. ‘That is why I am suspending the officers in question today, against the advice of counsel.
‘You cannot stand around and allow these types of things to happen. You have a duty,’ she continued. ‘Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by the police department, our mental health care system, our society, and he was failed by me.’