By Vickie Vértiz
Like many other seasonal activities across the country, the Festival of Lights was interrupted by civil unrest after a grand jury failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson who gunned down unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Demonstrators are bringing attention to the hundreds of black men who have been killed at the hands of law enforcement officers who have gone unpunished in this country.
At a recent Riverside demonstration, a crowd of at least fifty protesters were marching down Main Street and into a busy intersection when a driver barreled through the crowd. While no serious injuries were reported, video available on various websites shows a car aggressively pushing through a crowd of innocent bystanders. According to The Press-Enterprise, Riverside police say they have little information about the driver or the car they are looking for.
The Enterprise talked to protestor David Mukuria, who held a megaphone and led the crowd in some of the chanting. He told the paper that the diversity of the crowd showed that the issues of state violence are beyond issues of race. “We [are] here to protest police accountability,” he told the paper. “It [is] not a race thing. We [are] here for every age, every race … we want to collectively implement change. This is a very loud reminder of what is going on in millions of American […] lives.”
During the demonstration, the crowd marched to the statue of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and wrote the names of people injured or killed by police in chalk on the ground, according to the paper. At the foot of the statue, the paper said that protesters draped a banner that read, “Power to the People.”
Since the festival opened the day after Thanksgiving, neighbors have reported that Main Street has been very congested at the intersection at the Mission Inn. But despite the violent act against them, the intergenerational and multiethnic protesters have not been deterred. Protesters will be gathering once more, said the paper. The next protest is scheduled to be held Saturday, December 20th and once again, will occur during the Festival of Lights downtown.
The Enterprise said that the motorist ran over the toes of one protester which the victim claimed on a social media posting. The video clearly shows a handful of people in the street who part once the sedan plows through them.
However, police could not confirm the injury. “No one was injured,” said Lieutenant Christian Dinko to the paper on Sunday. He and other officers had been told those were the latest reports.
Dinko said police are looking for the offender, though they are challenged with the limited description of the car: a dark sedan that could be a BMW.
A photo of the car featured in The Press-Enterprise shows that the car had BMW hubcaps. This can be confirmed by watching the video frame by frame.
The vehicle also suffered damages, said the paper. A protester apparently handed police the outer shell of a side view mirror that likely tore off when the car smashed into protesters.
Downtown protesters say they’ll gather again
By Vickie Vértiz