Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

After an individual purportedly attacked Black Lives Matter protestors in August, IPD continues to investigate the altercation.

September 16, 2020

Investigation Continues Into August Altercation at Black Lives Matter Protest

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The Ithaca Police Department continues to investigate an incident in which a car drove through protesters marching on E. Clinton St., in front of the Ithaca Police Department headquarters.

An individual who was attempting to aid the motorists, sustained a “minor injury” after being “shoved to the ground” by protesters, an Aug. 31 IPD media release stated.

Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 publicly released footage of parts of the incident, which is currently under investigation by the IPD.

In contrast to footage of the standoff made public, the release does not mention that the motorists — a couple in their eighties — attempted to drive through the crowd, hitting protesters in its path. The protestors then climbed onto the car to avoid getting run over.

However, after speaking with the motorists, Myrick wrote in a statement that he believed
“they meant no harm to the protestors” and “simply found themselves surrounded by people in the street and were unsure what to do.”

The IPD declined to comment on the investigation, stating that they had been instructed by the Mayor’s office to redirect questions to his office. The Mayor’s office could not be reached for comment by time of publication.

Other footage, posted on Twitter by local activist Genevieve Rand, shows herself and other protestors attempting to de-escalate the situation by directing the driver to an alternate route. Rayvon Kenyon, who was also present at the protest, stated that this was the first time motorists refused to take a detour, and that the protestors ultimately ended up letting the vehicle pass.

Rand, who was among those hit by the vehicle, said that missing from the footage is the vehicle “blaring their horn the whole time” before the drivers decided to speak with the protestors.

The footage, which consists of both surveillance camera footage and videos filmed on a phone, does not appear to show the alleged altercation between protesters and the individual.

The individual has been identified by some protestors as Zachary Winn, who ran for mayor of Ithaca in 2007.

Winn also spoke against the Black Lives Matter mural on Plain Street at the Ithaca Common Council’s September meeting, where he was accused of being a white supremacist by some speakers.

“The city of Ithaca has no business endorsing political movement with street mural projects, especially of violent terrorist orgs like BLM,” Winn said, adding that allowing the mural is “an insult to the countless victims of assault, arson and murder that are taking place nightly across this country.”

Another video of the altercation, filmed by one of the protestors, shows the individual running into the crowd and slapping the vehicle, encouraging the motorists to drive through the protestors.  He then yelled at the protestors to get out of the vehicle’s way, before allegedly punching one of the protestors in the face and ripping off the protestor’s mask.

The video also shows protestors swarming around the individual and moving him out of the street, during which he screamed for help, before pulling a protestor by the hair and falling to the ground.

Contesting the IPD’s press release, Kenyon claimed that Winn “launched himself into the ground” while attempting to assault protestors, resulting in a forehead wound. He refused first aid offered by the protestors.

“He tried to convince the police officers that [the injury] was because of us and tried to keep the wound open,” said Kenyon, “He was standing there and visibly sticking his finger inside of his wound, that was pretty far in, and was opening it.”

However, after the individual failed to get IPD officers involved, Rand said that he did not leave the scene, instead engaging in calm conversation with the protestors, something he has done at other rallies since.

Myrick praised the “professionalism and dedication” displayed by the IPD in protecting protestors and encouraged minimization of “points of pedestrian-vehicular conflict”.

“Honestly I am worried that situations like this could grow out of control and, as we saw on Sunday, even people who agree can scare each other and hurt each other,” Myrick said in his statement.