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Motorist arrested after video shows vehicle drive at low speed through crowd of angry protesters

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Cellphone video captured the moment a motorist drove a car at a low speed through a crowd of angry immigration protesters in Orange County, California, last Thursday. The driver was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, booked and released pending further investigation. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

What happened?

  • Cellphone video captured the moment a motorist drove a car at a low speed through a crowd of angry immigration protesters in Orange County, California, last Thursday.
  • Video shows protesters crossing an intersection in Brea and car horns going off in response.
  • Protesters appear to stop in front of one car.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

  • The car is seen moving forward. Protesters bang on the hood. It isn't clear if anyone noticed the disabled person sticker on the license plate.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

  • The crowd grew angrier as the car continued moving past the crosswalk and into the intersection where people are seen hitting the vehicle and throwing objects at it.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

  • One woman jumped on the hood.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

  • Police were on the scene and stopped the car before it left the intersection.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

  • Daniel Wenzek, 56, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, booked and released pending further investigation, Lt. Kelly Carpenter of the Brea Police told the Los Angeles Times.

Here's a raw clip of the incident:

What was the protest all about?

  • Protesters were outside the office of Republican U.S. Rep. Ed Royce over the possibility of losing temporary protected immigration status, the paper reported.
  • “There were definitely a lot of drivers who were laying on their horns and getting pretty irate,” Andrew Cohen, a communications specialist with the organization Unite Here, told the Times.

Were there any injuries?

  • Carpenter told the paper no victims have come forward so far.
  • But David Huerta, president of the SEIU United Service Workers West labor union, said “several” of his members went to the hospital but had no other information about potential injuries, the Times reported.

What did the woman who jumped on the hood of the car have to say?

  • Claudia Aguilera, 46, was on the hood for about seven seconds before she told the paper she slid off on the passenger side.
  • “My only thought is that I just want him to stop,” Aguilera told the Times by phone. “I’m like, if I just jump on the car, he’s going to stop. He did stop, thank God, because if he didn’t stop, he would [have] run over a lot of people that [were] crossing the street. It was so quick.”

What else did police say?

  • "I think he was trying to get through the crowd," Lt. Adam Hawley told KNBC-TV. "We don't have any indication he was trying to harm somebody."
  • "In regards to the motorist, although he had a green light to proceed into the intersection, he cannot do so until it is safe. It was clearly not safe and he endangered several peoples’ lives by his actions," a police statement read, KNBC reported. "From our perspective it appeared the protesters did not start banging on his car until he started driving through the crowd. However, the case is still under investigation, and we are still attempting to locate witnesses, victims and other evidence (video, etc.). We will also be examining whether some of the protesters’ actions were criminal and, if so, take the appropriate action."

What else is being reported about the driver?

  • Records show Wenzek was convicted in 2006 of committing lewd acts against a child under 14, the Associated Press said.

This writer's perspective

TheBlaze reported last month about the legal ramifications of vehicles driving through surrounding protesters — but the premise dealt with situations in which drivers believe their lives are in danger. It isn't clear what assessments the Brea motorist made here.

Either way, it seems that protesters who block traffic take on a superhero's persona — as if nothing can harm them. Last time I checked ye olde broken-down Pinto still can easily disperse a throng of unlimited size, so it also isn't clear what was going through the protesters' minds, either — particularly the woman who jumped on the hood.

Finally, the above report from KTTV-TV needs to be called out for using loaded, sensational language. The  protesters are "scrambling out of the way as a car plows right into" them? Then the protesters are "running for their lives"? Look again at the raw video and decide for yourself if either description is remotely true.

(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)

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