Truck Driver Hits Protesters During Abolish Columbus Day Demonstration in Nevada; Authorities Vow To Serve Justice

A woman has been hospitalized after a teenage truck driver hit protesters in Downtown Reno on Monday during a demonstration against Colombus Day.

According to Quanah Brightman, the executive director of the United Native Americans Inc., who described the incident as a “hate crime,” the driver of the white Nissan pick-up truck had been stalking the group, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

Videos of the incident posted online show that the driver and passenger of the truck got into a confrontation with some protesters before the driver hit them with his vehicle under the Reno Arch.

Reno Police Sgt. James Pitsnogel revealed in a statement on Tuesday that the 18-year-old driver and his 17-year-old passenger had been interviewed by the cops and are cooperating, CBS News reported.

Driver Hits Protesters
Native Americans protest in Pierre, South Dakota. [Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]

Besides the woman who sustained non-life threatening injuries, four other protesters, including the driver and passenger, were left with minor injuries from the confrontation.

The 59-year-old woman who got injured in her lower extremities has been identified as Kitty Colbert by the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Colbert, who was transported to the Renown Regional Medical Center, revealed on Facebook that she was left with several small fractures after being run over by the truck driver.

Police said that after the driver had hit the protesters on Virginia Street at about 6:41 p.m. on Monday, he pulled over his vehicle several blocks away and called the cops to report what had transpired.

The police are still investigating the incident, and it does not appear that anyone has been arrest so far. Native American activists have expressed disappointment that the cops have not taken the suspect into custody yet.

“It’s still brutal to see this kind of racism in America. That man deserves life [in prison] for what he did,” Brighton said.

It is unclear what triggered the confrontation between the truck driver and the protesters. In a video posted on YouTube, the driver is seen arguing with the protesters who refuse to leave the road. A person in the crowd is heard saying “just back it up and go around man.”

One of the protesters told AP that the driver had passed the group while they were heading towards the Reno Arch and hurled curse words at them.

“I heard the diver ask one of the protesters, ‘Do you want me to kill your homies?’ and that really set everybody off,” the witness, identified as Taylor Wayman, said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Reno Police Chief Jason Soto revealed that police investigators are watching several videos of the incident. Soto said that the 40 protesters, who were demonstrating in solidarity with the Abolish Columbus Day Movement, did not have a permit to do so.

On Tuesday, Reno Mayor Hilary Schieve released a statement assuring the public that the police would bring the wrongdoers to justice once their investigation is complete.

“This incident is troublesome and saddens us deeply. I take these matters seriously, and I believe they must be investigated thoroughly and promptly. Public safety is our highest priority, and I want all Reno residents to know that we are working swiftly and diligently to make sense of the events that took place last night.”

The Abolish Columbus Day movement is gaining ground in the U.S. Native American activists are calling for an end to the holiday honoring Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, which falls on the second Monday of October. The holiday has been marked in the U.S. since 1937. Earlier this month, officials in Denver voted to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with a holiday known as Indigenous People’s Day, the Atlanta Black Star reported.

“The atrocities that Columbus engaged in against indigenous peoples was followed up by European nations’ heinous conquest of the Americas,” Democrat State Rep. Joe Salazar said after the vote. “That kind of ruthlessness, genocide and inhumanity leaves a mark on the world, even to this day. Replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day is a small part in restoring just a little bit of our humanity and honoring people who still exist today despite all attempts to wipe them off the planet.”

[Featured Image by David McNew/Getty Images]