By Meghan Christian
The driver of the red pickup truck that collided with protesters on Dort Highway around 7 a.m. Tuesday will not currently face any charges, according to Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson at a mayoral press conference at City Hall the afternoon after the incident.
“It wasn’t found that he had any intoxicants in his blood… He was pretty shaken up about it, in tears,” Johnson said. “The driver was not drunk, so far from what our tests tell us… His tests all came back zero, so no,” he added when asked if the driver would be facing any citations for the incident.
Of the eight injured and taken to the hospital, all were reported as in good condition at the time of the press conference according to Deputy Chief of Police Devon Bernritter. Neither the driver nor the eight injured were identified.
The City of Flint Police were unable to give more detail on the driver’s statement, Johnson said. “An interview was conducted of the driver,” Bernritter said. “As this has not been submitted to the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office in any way, at this point we can’t discuss specifics of what he said,” Bernritter added.
As reported by MLive, the rally yesterday morning was part of a “Fight for $15” fast-food workers’ campaign for a higher minimum wage when a truck going northbound on Dort Highway ran into the tail end of the group of protesters, before going over the median and hitting a Consumers Energy truck going southbound.
The protestors had convened at Piece of the Rock church across the street from McDonald’s and were just beginning their march. Videos of the incident in progress posted on Facebook showed a misty rain in pre-dawn darkness and most of the protestors in bright red shirts.
Both Mayor Karen Weaver and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer were present at the time of the accident, but according to Weaver, neither of them saw the incident occur due to their location at the front of the rally. “I didn’t see anything because I was in the front… The next thing I knew, we heard sirens,” Weaver said, adding that at first those in attendance thought that someone had passed out.
According to Weaver and Johnson, the City was not properly informed of the scope of the protest and were unable to prepare as a result. “We didn’t set it up. Had that happened we could’ve done those things,” Weaver said, referring to suggestions such as police escorts for the protesters and reflective vests for them to wear. “It was our understanding that it was a press conference. We didn’t know that they were going to march,” Weaver added.
A protest leader who had been on the scene said she was unable to comment. Attempts to contact the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spokespersons who were supporting the campaign were not successful due to an unavailable phone number and full mailbox.
Chief Johnson encouraged those looking to hold these kinds of events in the future to contact the City of Flint so that the proper setup and precautions can be determined.
“We pray that they are all right and that they recover,” Johnson said. “It was a sad situation to see happen… They never really got a chance to rally because of that,” he added.
EVM Managing Editor Meghan Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.