The New York Police Department (NYPD) has launched a manhunt for the driver of a black sedan, who was filmed accelerating into a group of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors gathered on a street near Times Square on Thursday night. Police officials believe the vehicle was driven by an unidentified pro-Trump supporter from a nearby rally, CBS reported.
A video of the incident, shared widely on social media, shows the black sedan charging towards the crowd with its horns blaring. Dozens of anti-racism demonstrators are heard yelling as they quickly jump out of the way. According to police officials, no one appeared to be seriously injured, the Guardian reported.
The demonstrators had gathered near the popular New York landmark to protest the custodial killing of African-American man Daniel Prude in Rochester earlier this year. The 41-year-old was arrested after he was caught running down a street naked.
Police body camera footage, released by Prude’s family on Wednesday, showed seven police officials placing a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, before holding him down to the ground until he ceased to breathe. Prude died a week later after he was taken off life support, in what a medical examiner described as a “homicide caused by complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint”, the Guardian reported.
The protestors had gathered near Times Square after seven police officials involved in Prude’s death were suspended. According to a report by CBS, a standoff had broken out between the BLM protestors and a group of Trump supporters from a rally close by.
When the confrontation grew heated, the police got involved and tried to diffuse the situation. One of the Trump supporters was asked to leave in his car, but instead he decided to ram into the crowd of BLM demonstrators, CBS reported.
After several observers claimed the car closely resembled an unmarked police vehicle, the NYPD issued a statement denying their involvement. “This auto is NOT an NYPD vehicle,” the police department tweeted on Thursday night.
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) September 4, 2020
Some pointed out the incident bore a striking resemblance to a similar one that had occurred during the Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally in 2017, when a counter-protestor, named Heather Heyer, was mowed down by a speeding vehicle.