Native American protesters in Reno, Nevada, expressing their distaste for the glorification of invader Christopher Columbus were attacked when an apparently racist man ran them through with his pickup truck on Monday.
Four people suffered minor injuries and were treated and released at the site, but one elderly woman remains hospitalized.
One witness described it as a hate crime, and another said that the two men in the truck had been harassing the protesters earlier in the day by shouting obscenities at them.
A video of the protest was fed live on Facebook and shows the pickup driver revving the engine, and threatening the crowd that had gathered at Reno’s landmark arch. Protesters confronted the men in the truck, but the driver proceeded to plow through the crowd at around 6:40 p.m. according to ABC News.
According to a statement released by Reno Police Sgt. James Pitsnogel, the driver stopped several blocks away and phoned the police to “to provide his account of the events,” and both driver and passenger are cooperating in the investigation.
The leader of the group that organized the protest is Mike Graham, founder of the United Native American Association based in Oklahoma. Graham says he is planning to discuss the incident with the Reno police. Graham told The Associated Press:
‘We are truly upset that he is not in custody. He left the scene of an accident.’
Executive director of United Native Americans Inc., Quanah Brightman told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the men had been harassing them throughout the day, “stalking” the peaceful participants who were there to protest both Columbus Day and the Dakota Access Pipeline that is interfering with sacred Native American lands. Brightman told the Gazette-Journal:
‘This is a hate crime. It’s still brutal to see this kind of racism in America. That man deserves life (in prison) for what he did.’
Brightman also said that the hospitalized woman is elderly and sustained lower extremity injuries after going under the Nissan pickup truck. Brightman also said that photos were taken of the truck’s license plate.
Reverend Ralph Whitted was standing at the nearby intersection of Virginia and Second streets and saw the driver speed away after plowing through the crowd. Rev. Whitted told the Reno Gazette-Journal:
‘He was weaving in between cars, gunned it and nearly clipped another car.’
Another witness, Taylor Paniagua Sr., told the Gazette-Journal that he attempted to stop them from getting away by jumping in front of the vehicle. Paniagua said he caught the hood, but the driver plowed on. Paniagua also described how he grabbed a side door and ended up being dragged down the street, until he was finally forced to let go.
‘This just is not right. It didn’t seem right when they revved the engine.
‘I had to stand up for my rights. I’m Native American myself, and I’m from Oklahoma. It was just uncalled for.’
The perpetrators were described as white, overweight men in their 20s.
The investigation is ongoing, and Reno Police are asking that anyone with knowledge of the attack contact them via Secret Witness at www.secretwitness.com.
The videos below show the confrontation and violent attack. Please note that they contain strong language and disturbing events.