A pickup truck plowed into a crowd of mostly Native demonstrators in Reno, Nevada on Monday October 10, injuring five and sending one to the hospital. Participants in the demonstration, organized by the American Indian Movement of Northern Nevada (AIMNN), were gathered under the city’s Reno Arch downtown to draw attention to the real meaning of Columbus Day. They were also there to educate passersby about the conflict surrounding the Dakota Access oil pipeline being routed near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Suddenly, witnesses said, a white Nissan pickup truck drove by, its occupants hurling slurs. Then it circled back, and stopped. Some of the demonstrators walked up to the vehicle and had words with the occupants. Suddenly the engines revved, and the truck plowed into the group, sending people flying.
Cameras were already rolling to document the demonstration, and they streamed the entire horrifying incident on Facebook. Police said in a statement that the incident occurred at 6:41 p.m., according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
One witness recounted how two men “drove into marchers after first being seen at the rally start point, driving by once shouting slurs, and then doubling back around to get in front of the protesters before driving into them,” wrote Diana Heideman, owner of Wallflower Botanicals, in a Facebook post. “One elder, a grandmother there with her grandchildren, was hospitalized with injuries to her legs, a broken tailbone, and further tests pending. She is stable and in good spirits. She was planning to depart for #StandingRock tomorrow.”
Several protesters were posing for a photo under the arch when the pickup pulled up for the second time, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Police told KOLO TV that the driver called in from a few blocks away to give his own side of the story, and that police had interviewed him and are cooperating with authorities. That was not enough for one of the rally’s organizers, though.
“This is a hate crime,” Quanah Brightman, executive director of United Native Americans Inc. told the Reno Gazette-Journal, adding that the driver had been “stalking” the group of demonstrators. “It’s still brutal to see this kind of racism in America. That man deserves life [in prison] for what he did.”