A truck driver careened into a group of demonstrators in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday as they crossed the street during an otherwise peaceful protest of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The unidentified male driver of a Ford truck rammed into several protesters — all of them women — at the tail end of a procession, rolling over one woman’s ankle and sending her to the hospital, witnesses said.
“He tried to murder them,” said a local journalist and witness to the attack, Lyz Lenz. “These women see him coming and a bunch of people put their hands out to stop him. And he just keeps going.”
Multiple witnesses, including one of the victims, described the scene in interviews with HuffPost: The male driver was waiting behind several cars at a red light downtown as a throng of protesters crossed the street.
He became “impatient,” as several witnesses said, and hit the gas, maneuvering around several cars to ram protesters.
Video taken by Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker shows several women standing in front of the truck with their arms outstretched, trying to get the driver to stop. But the driver keeps pushing forward and bowls them over, injuring several of them.
One of the demonstrators, Alexis Russell, can be seen in the video holding a protest sign and reaching into the driver’s side window as the truck rolls forward. She told HuffPost that she was trying to steer him away from the other protesters.
“I had a fight-or-flight response,” Russell told HuffPost. “He had his window down. I grabbed the back of the window to keep up with his car and tried to grab the steering wheel. At some point he grabbed my sign and ripped it, and I fell, and he proceeded to run over one of the girls.”
Russell said she was “shaken up” but otherwise uninjured. The hospitalized woman, she said, was “totally distraught.”
City Councilwoman Ashley Vanorny confirmed that Cedar Rapids police had been called and were investigating.
Several witnesses argued that the attack was motivated by anger over the protest, which was just one of many that flared up across the nation after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood on Friday.
Molly Monk, a witness, told HuffPost that the man didn’t give any audible indication that he was anti-abortion, “but he did go out of his way to hit protesters in the street who had very visible, very clear signs that they were pro-choice.”
“It makes me feel like the pro-life movement is a completely lie if, in order to be against people who are protesting for abortion rights, you try to murder them in my street, in my neighborhood,” said Monk. “It makes me very, very sad, very hurt and very angry that this is what people think pro-life means.”
Despite recent calls from Republican lawmakers to protect their fellow abortion opponents from harm in the wake of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling, the anti-abortion movement has a long history of violence.
In the last 43 years, anti-abortion activists have committed at least 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 956 known threats of harm or death, 614 stalking incidents and four kidnappings, according to the National Abortion Federation. The supposedly “pro-life” movement has bombed 42 abortion clinics, set fire to 194 and made 667 bomb threats.