In a confusing episode that authorities are still trying to clear up, a tanker truck sped toward a crowd of thousands of demonstrators who were marching on a bridge in Minneapolis late Sunday afternoon to protest the killing of George Floyd. Demonstrators managed to scatter, and surprisingly there were no immediate reports of any seriously injured protesters. The harrowing scene was caught on video from multiple angles and shows how the tanker truck barreled toward the crowd that was on the I-35W bridge.
Witnesses said the truck sped toward the crowd beeping its horn as dozens had taken a seat or a knee for a moment of silence. “A truck came. The horns were blaring. It was picking up speed. It was plowing down the highway into the protesters,” Melanie Ramos of Minneapolis told the Star Tribune. “It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.” Another witness said he could smell the fuel and hear it “sloshing around” as the tanker approached. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington described it as “one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever seen.”
Protesters swarmed the truck and pulled out the driver. Witnesses on social media said that law enforcement pepper sprayed peaceful demonstrators who had rushed out of the scene. There are reports that some demonstrators tried to stop the attack on the driver and several laid on him as protection. Police moved in and took the driver into custody. He was treated for non–life threatening injuries before being taken to jail. Officials say it isn’t clear whether the driver was injured by the crash or protesters.
Authorities said the truck was already on the freeway before it was closed for traffic about an hour earlier. “I don’t know the motives of the driver at this point in time,” Gov. Tim Walz said. “But at this point in time to not have tragedy and many deaths is an amazing thing.”
For more Slate coverage of George Floyd’s death and the nationwide protests, listen to What Next, or read more:
• William Saletan: “Trump Doesn’t Believe in Law and Order”
• Matthew Dessem: “Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide”
• Joel Anderson: “The Police Don’t Change”
• Dahlia Lithwick: “America Gasps for Air”
• Julia Craven: “This Week Has Happened Before”