There’s some debate about whether drivers who feel threatened by protests that stop traffic should keep driving. It can endanger protesters, of course — but trapped drivers themselves could be in very real danger.
One way to make the latter argument? Bringing a gun to a protest and shooting at a motorist who keeps driving.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, two individuals have been taken into custody in Provo, Utah, after one shot at a car that didn’t stop when a crowd blocked an intersection.
Police say that there were competing groups at a Monday rally, with one aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement and another rallying in support of police.
According to the Deseret News, four groups were listed on a Facebook page as organizing the left-leaning side of the protest: Insurgence, Solidarity for Justice, Salt Lake Equal Rights Movement and the Salt Lake Antifascist Coalition
As the protesters blocked the intersection, a white SUV tried to make a turn, pushing aside several protesters who got in front of the vehicle.
“Several protesters began crowding around the vehicle,” said John Geyerman, deputy chief of Provo Police, according to KSL-TV. “The male protester ran toward the SUV on the passenger side, pointed a handgun at the driver, and shot one round through the window. The driver who was struck by the bullet accelerated, trying to leave the situation. The same protester ran after the vehicle and fired a second shot that went through the rear passenger window.”
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language and content that some viewers will find offensive.
— Lisi Merkley (@elisynkay) June 30, 2020
Here’s a zoomed-in, slowed-down video that shows the shooting:
— H O S S DezNat News Man (@NiasDiad) June 30, 2020
Just in case you think that the gun was a matter of mutually assured destruction and wouldn’t be bared unless a car tried to broach the line, Geyerman’s statement said the protester “later approached another vehicle at 500 North and University Avenue, striking and breaking the window with the handgun.”
The driver of the SUV, described by the Deseret News as a 60-year-old man, was able to get himself to Utah Valley Hospital. The injuries weren’t life-threatening.
A 33-year-old Salt Lake City resident, Jesse Taggart, is the accused shooter. He was arrested Tuesday and charged with attempted aggravated murder, aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, rioting, threatening use of a weapon in a fight or quarrel, criminal mischief and firing a weapon near a highway, according to a post by Provo Police on Twitter.
In news just as surprising as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, it appears Taggart was on the Black Lives Matter side of things.
Jesse Taggart, 33, a BLM activist, has been arrested for allegedly shooting a driver at a BLM riot in Provo, Utah. Taggar’s social media is filled w/ BLM content. He’s been charged w/attempted aggravated murder, aggravated assault, rioting, firing a weapon near a highway & more. pic.twitter.com/0dGI6Kpzoe
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 1, 2020
Police say that once he shot the driver and bashed in the window with a weapon, he went back to protesting, the Deseret News reported.
In addition, a 27-year-old Ogden, Utah, resident, Samantha Darling, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and rioting.
Police also arrested Samantha Darling, 27-year-old resident of Ogden City, and booked her into custody at the Utah County Jail for a charge of Obstruction of Justice and Rioting.
The Provo Police Department extends its thanks to citizens…
— Provo Police (@ProvoPolice) July 1, 2020
If that wasn’t enough, police say they’re still looking for a second man who brandished a gun but who didn’t fire.
So, this is peaceful protesting?
Again, say what you will about driving through traffic during a protest, but this didn’t seem to be a violent act. This wasn’t a case of someone stomping on the gas and the driver isn’t facing charges at the moment, presumably amid some police scrutiny. Meanwhile, it’s clear the man who was firing the gun wasn’t in danger — and when you fire a gun at someone, the obvious intent is to at least wound, and possibly kill.
If you want to say that this protest was “mostly peaceful,” you can certainly do that. Most people apparently didn’t have guns. And only half of those who brandished weapons even fired them! See, now that’s restraint. Let’s focus instead on the ingrates who drove through a group of people swarming around their vehicles in a menacing fashion.
There’s a great irony here. After the intersection-blocking rioting — where more motorists drove through the blockade, leading to protesters throwing themselves on cars and beating on the windows — the demonstrators marched to the Provo Police Department, the Deseret News reported. Police threatened them with arrest if they didn’t disperse. Their response? They chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
I assume the police may not have been fully aware of what happened earlier. Otherwise, it must have taken some herculean restraint not to chant it right back at them.
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