I’ve decided to release footage showing the confrontation between motorists and protestors on Sunday, as part of the Ithaca Police Department’s investigation into an alleged assault. The complaint we received said that a bystander who claims he was attempting to intervene with the protestors blocking a car from passing - was injured in the ensuing scuffle.
The Ithaca Police Department investigation into the alleged assault of a bystander is continuing, so I won’t comment on that aspect until all the facts are in.
But I do want to share a few thoughts about the confrontation between the protestors and the drivers. I spoke to the motorists – a couple in their 80s - and I believe they meant no harm to the protestors. I believe that they broadly support the cause of racial equality and justice, and simply found themselves surrounded by people in the street and were unsure what to do.
I also spoke to a couple of protestors and believe that they were sincere in their fear that the car intended to strike them – and reacted out of concern for their colleagues. They are aware of other deadly clashes in other parts of the country, and desired to keep their friends safe.
It seems the driver and protestors were eventually able to communicate with each other, and the car was able to make it through, though it was damaged.
The fight to ensure that black lives matter is a righteous one, and thousands of Ithacans have participated in 14 straight weeks of protests without injury or serious damage to property. All that time, far from using tear gas or imposing curfews, the IPD has been diligent about closing streets to protect protestors even when those closures were needed unexpectedly. I am grateful for their professionalism and dedication in this work, as I am in all of their work.
But they cannot be everywhere and our safety is ultimately in our own hands. Points of pedestrian-vehicular conflict always pose safety concerns, and I encourage all to minimize them. 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. So I would urge everyone – protesters, bystanders, motorists, everyone – to be patient with each other. I’d ask us to whenever possible assume positive intent. And in these very stressful times continue to strive to be the best Ithaca we can – a City famous for love, inclusion, and a vocal passionate insistence that a more just world is possible.