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Abortion protester hurt in altercation with pickup truck driver
Linn supervisor says collision was ‘act of pure violence’
Jun. 24, 2022 11:28 pm, Updated: Jun. 25, 2022 5:40 pm
CEDAR RAPIDS — Police are investigating how an argument Friday evening between a pickup truck driver and demonstrators protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling against abortion rights led to a collision between the truck and a pedestrian, who was injured in the altercation.
Police interviewed the injured protester, who was later taken by a car to the hospital to be evaluated, and the driver of the truck.
But no arrests were announced and police said they were scouring the area for surveillance video cameras that may have captured the incident. Videos posted to social media showed a truck with its window rolled down with what appears to be the driver exchanging words with several protesters around the truck, including some crossing the street as the vehicle continued to move forward.
While police in a news release described the collision only by saying “contact was made between a vehicle and one of the pedestrians,” some of those who were at the protest said the incident was a deliberate act against the protesters.
"What happened today was an act of pure violence,“ said Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, who rushed to help women who were in front of the truck. ”Young women who were protesting the recent Supreme Court decision that threatens their right to health care and bodily autonomy were targeted. Many of them were physically hurt and many will be afflicted by the mental trauma of this event. It is my hope that the individual responsible for this act will be brought to justice, and that the basic human rights of all people can be honored in this country."
A police statement said the incident happened at 7:17 p.m. near the U.S. Courthouse near Eighth Avenue and Second Street SE in downtown Cedar Rapids. About 200 protesters had gathered there.
“Preliminary investigations indicate a group of protesters were attempting to legally cross the street in front of the Federal Courthouse when the traffic lights changed, giving right of way to vehicles on 8th Avenue,” the statement said. “Following verbal confrontations between the protesters and a driver, contact was made between a vehicle and one of the pedestrians.”
Walker said in an interview that the incident happened as the protest was winding down and people were beginning to return to a staging area.
“As I crossed the street, I heard a commotion,” he said. “I turned back to see a truck driving into the crowd with at least two young women — one of whom is a Linn County staffer — directly in front of the vehicle, and another woman appeared to be engaged with the vehicle near the driver's side.
“It became apparent that the vehicle had no intention of stopping so I ran as fast as I could to try to get the young staffer out of harm's way,” he said. “The driver accelerated and injured several young women in the process. Thankfully the women in front of the vehicle were not run over."
Video posted to social media captured the truck’s personalized license plate as the driver sped away. Police said the driver was “voluntarily interviewed,” but didn’t say whether that was at the scene or whether they had found the driver later.
Gage Miskimen of The Gazette contributed to this report.