Protester struck in apparent hit-and-run at LA Black Lives Matter march

Authorities said they are not certain a crime occurred due to the chaotic circumstances of the downtown protest


Josh Cain
Daily News, Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — Detectives on Thursday were investigating after a car hit one of several hundred activists marching in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 27, injuring him and prompting a search for the driver, police said.

The man was walking with protesters angry over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday while in Minneapolis police custody, when they passed a car stopped at the light at First and Spring streets.

Demonstrators shut down the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, during a protest about the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Demonstrators shut down the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, during a protest about the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

How the collision occurred isn’t clear, but the man was left injured on the street after the car sped away. Sgt. Frank Preciado of the Los Angeles Police Department said detectives were investigating what happened.

“Normally this would be categorized as a hit-and-run,” he said.

He said police don’t know for sure that a crime occurred, owing to some of the chaos downtown after police in riot gear scattered hundreds of protesters.

Paramedics treated the man. Preciado didn’t know if he was taken to a hospital. But he’s the second injured protester involved in the marches downtown two days after Floyd’s killing.

The first injury occurred when protesters who moved on to the 101 Freeway tangled with a pair of California Highway Patrol cruisers. As one of the units drove through the group, the cruiser was surrounded and had its back window smashed with a skateboard, according to news helicopter footage of the protest.

A protester jumped on top and was still sitting on the roof as the vehicle drove off — he jumped down then appeared to slam his head into the ground.

A Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman didn’t know the injured man’s condition Thursday but said he appeared to be OK.

Misunderstanding may have prompted some of the punches and kicks thrown at the CHP units — several protesters on social media and in an interview said they thought the CHP cruiser ran over the injured man.

Despite the highway encounter, both police and protesters described Wednesday’s protests as an afternoon of mostly peaceful demonstrations.

Things started when protesters took over the intersection at Aliso and Los Angeles streets. After about two hours, LAPD commanders declared the gathering unlawful and sent out riot police.

Joseph Williams, an organizer with Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles, said the protests were peaceful until the encounter with police at the intersection. He said the freeway demonstration was spontaneous, and he called the CHP unit driving through their group “reckless.”

“We had a number of folks out there who were family members, or community members, or loved ones of people who have been killed by police violence,” he said.

A CHP spokesman has not returned a request for comment.

LAPD officials in a tweet asked protesters not to go on the freeway.

“We hear your anger & your pain,” they said. “We will always facilitate freedom of speech. Period. All we ask is that protests are held in a safe & legal manner.”

Preciado said there were some reports of protesters throwing objects at officers after they were ordered to leave the intersection. But he said the group was peaceful up until then.

“Command staff made the determination that they had ample time to exercise First Amendment rights,” he said. “They then declared it an unlawful assembly and started the dispersal order.”

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©2020 the Daily News (Los Angeles)

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