A police SUV rams into a crowd of protestors in a terrifying moment caught on camera
As protests over systemic racism and police brutality continued through the weekend, a largely peaceful march in Detroit took a disturbing turn. As protestors made their way back to the city’s Patton Park, a police SUV began driving into the crowd. When organizers of the march attempted to stop the cruiser from blocking the marchers, the SUV accelerated four times — gunning it on the last acceleration for roughly 100 feet with at least two demonstrators still on the hood of the car.
Video of the incident quickly made its way to social media, where it has been met with justifiable outrage. “Detroit Police Department just ran straight into a bunch of our protestors,” Ethan Ketner shared. “Myself and 10-12 others were struck by this reckless driver who somehow has a badge.”
Jae Bass, 24, was one of the organizers of Sunday’s march as well as one of the demonstrators violently flung from the hood of the police SUV. According to Bass, he tried to stand in front of the police SUV to stop it before anyone got hurt.
“In response to that, he just floored it. He went super fast. Me and a couple of other organizers that were with me, just went flinging off,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “He ran over a couple people’s arms, feet… I think I was the last person on the car. I was just holding onto the car. I could feel him speeding up and then he did one of these and he flinged me off the car.”
As Bass and other demonstrators told news outlets, the altercation took place around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday evening as protestors were concluding their march. They say police tried to “block” the marchers from returning to Patton Park, with the SUV turning on its overhead light and driving toward the protestors as they made their way back. It’s at that point the viral video footage begins. In it, the police car revs its engine and inches forward before ultimately ramming into protestors.
Ketner and other witnesses say multiple people were injured as a result of the incident, with several receiving treatment at local hospitals. The extent of their injuries remains unclear at this time.
“This shows some of the issues we have with the Detroit Police because they feel like they can do anything with impunity because they haven’t been punished,” Tristan Taylor, another protest organizer with the group Detroit Will Breathe, told Detroit’s WDIV 4. “So, that’s why we’re marching. These police feel like their badge gives them the authority to do harm and damage under any circumstances.”
The Detroit police department responded to the uproar over the video on late Sunday night, telling The Detroit News that the officer in the SUV “tried to escape” after the rear vehicle window had been “busted out” and “agitators” crawled on the hood of the SUV. Department spokesperson Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood noted that an investigation was underway.
In a comment thread of one of the videos of the incident shared on Twitter, one protestor who was present offered more context. “The cops instigated this violence with them running over bikes all throughout today,” Twitter user @MarcKlock wrote. “The leaders of these marches all agree on not assaulting cop cars.”
As for the police department’s statement regarding “agitators” on the hood of the car, Bass points out that they were simply standing in front of the SUV until it moved forward — pushing them onto the hood.
It’s also worth noting that Sunday’s march follows weeks of peaceful protests in Detroit as a diverse coalition of civil rights and other organizations have come together to rally against racism, discrimination, police brutality, and more.