ITHACA, N.Y. –– As seems routine after 14 weeks of protests, Black Lives Matter activists took to the streets Sunday, blocking traffic outside the Ithaca Police headquarters.
However, this week stood out as the first time law enforcement officially announced an investigation regarding the protests, concerning a violent incident that occurred during a standoff with a stopped vehicle caught in the protesters’ blockade at this week’s rally.
In a press release sent out by IPD on Monday afternoon, officers are investigating a report of “criminal mischief and an assault” that took place during the protest a crowd was gathered on the street outside of IPD.
The press release states that a report was made, “that a vehicle was attempting to travel on E. Clinton Street when a group of protesters surrounded and caused damage to this vehicle,” and that “a bystander witnessed this incident and went to the motorist’s aid.”
It was reported that this bystander was shoved to the ground by some of the protesters causing a “minor injury” to the bystander.
Protestors at the scene who spoke with the Ithaca Voice on the condition of anonymity, due to what they say is fear of police retaliation, said that the vehicle in question was attempting to break their protest line by driving through them, and that the bystander involved in the incident was encouraging the driver.
In a video of the incident reviewed by the Ithaca Voice, the bystander is seen tapping on the drivers’ window and telling the vehicle to “drive through,” the protest. The bystander then proceeds to run into the crowd, yelling for protesters to get out of the driver’s way, before appearing to punch a protester in the face.
The protesters at the scene say the bystander was then pulled from the crowd by several people, during which he fell and sustained the injury.
The Ithaca Voice reached out to the bystander who appears in the video encouraging the drivers to drive through the protest and to be punching the protester, but did not receive a response.
The Voice also reached out to Ithaca Police Department for further information, but did not receive a response.
This incident is currently under investigation. The motorist involved has not been located at this time.
Ithaca Police say they would like to interview the motorist and any other witnesses regarding this incident. Ithaca Police can be reached through the following means:
Police Dispatch: (607) 272-3245
Police Administration: (607) 272-9973
Police Tipline: (607) 330-0000
Anonymous Tip Submission: www.cityofithaca.org/ipdtips