Taylor protesters allege driver targeted them

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Protesters who demonstrated against police brutality Tuesday in a Taylor intersection allege a driver targeted their group, driving through them and striking two people.

The incident was captured in footage posted on the Facebook account of Ethan Ketner, whose group, Survivors Speak, organized the protest.

The protesters knelt for several minutes near Telegraph and Goddard as traffic passed, carrying signs with messages such as “Black Lives Matter.”

Ketner also lay on the pavement in a reference to George Floyd, the African-American man whose death while pinned by a white police officer in Minnesota last month has sparked numerous protests nationwide and in Michigan.

In a minute-long clip Ketner posted, the crowd was moving away from the street and onto a sidewalk at about 5 p.m. when a white sedan approached the intersection. Multiple people, including someone on a bike, walked in front and around the car, which did not appear to stop until a woman holding a sign told the driver to wait for them to cross.

A second person also approached the driver’s side door and held up a hand that seemed to indicate the motorist should stop.

The clip then appears to show the car move forward as several other demonstrators surrounded the car, shouting “Hey” and “Oh my God!”

The camera inched closer to show the right passenger side, where a protester with a cardboard sign was seen reaching a hand through the open window. At that point, the car sped off, forcing some protesters to scream and leap back. A bicycle was crushed under the wheels.

“What is wrong with you?” someone cried as the car drove away.

Ketner said the incident left Survivors Speak founder Trische Duckworth and a military veteran in his 70s with scrapes.

In a post accompanying the video, Ketner said the “aggressive” driver “nearly ran over multiple people. Caught it on Instagram Live. We have alerted local authorities with license plate information. Taylor Michigan Police responded and left without approaching us. Taylor Paramedics came in and (didn’t) want to deal with us.”

Police Chief John Blair said city EMS responded and one of the people the sedan touched declined medical treatment.

Some of the participants also met with several Taylor police officers to report the driver encounter, according to the second video Ketner posted.

Officers took two incident reports from the protesters hurt, Blair said.

Authorities also are reviewing video footage and seeking tips to find the driver, who is believed to be an older woman with white or gray hair, "to get their side of the story," the chief said.

"This is not going to be glossed over," Blair told The Detroit News. "It will be fully investigated."

The protest was coordinated in Taylor since it is one of the cities where Shatina Grady, whose treatment in Washtenaw County Sheriff's custody has also prompted demonstrations, faced issues with police, Ketner said.

The group plans to protest in Ann Arbor again on Wednesday and return to Taylor another day, he added. "We are here with peace and love for justice, no matter who comes against us … and we will be here until systematic racism ends."