Truck driver who sped into protesters hauled from his rig and beaten

The driver of a tanker truck that was driven into a large crowd of peaceful protesters on a bridge near Minneapolis has been arrested by police after he was dragged from the vehicle and beaten by the crowd.

It did not appear that any marchers were struck by the truck as it moved through the crowd on the westbound lanes of Interstate 35 on Sunday (local time), honking as people screamed and fled for safety.

Crowds run as the tanker truck drives into thousands of protesters.
A tanker truck drives into thousands of peaceful protesters in Minnesota. Source: Reuters

The freeway was closed to traffic at the time.

Police estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 people were on the bridge at the time the truck sped through.

A journalist on the scene told America’s ABC News they watched the fear in the eyes of people running towards them as they tried to get out of the way.

LIVE BLOG: George Floyd protests continue across the US

The truck seen ploughing through crowds.
The driver was pulled from the cab and beaten before being handed over to police. Source: Reuters

A witness told Reuters the truck driver was dragged out of the cab of his tractor-trailer rig and beaten by protesters before he was taken into custody by Minneapolis police.

Footage of the incident shows the horrific moment as some demonstrators clung to the moving vehicle before crowds dragged the driver onto the road and started to bash him.

“I’d be shocked if he’s alive,” wrote one Twitter user, who posted a clip of the incident which has been shared widely.

Another video purports to show the driver, now shirtless, being hustled into the back of a police car.

Photos of the moment show the driver shirtless and covering his face while he stands next to a police officer, while other photos show the police fending off protesters with pepper spray.

Pictured are George Floyd protesters handing over to the police the bloodied driver of the truck. Source: Reuters
Protesters hand over to the police the bloodied driver of the truck. Source: Reuters

“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators," the Minneapolis Department of Public Safety said on Twitter.

“The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn't appear any protesters were hit by the truck.”

Authorities have confirmed there were no serious injuries or fatalities.

The driver has since been identified as Bogdan Vechirko, who lives in the nearby town of Otsego. He is being held in custody on probable assault charges, reports CBS Minnesota.

Investigators say they are still trying to understand the motive of the incident and how the truck was able to get onto the highway despite road blocks.

Mug shot of Bogdan Vechirko.
The driver, Bogdan Vechirko, is facing charges. Source: Hennepin County Sheriff/Getty

Anger explodes across America as curfews remain

The incident marked the latest outburst of violence following what began as peaceful demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, and comes as cities across the country again imposed curfews in fear of another night of demonstrations against police brutality descending into violence.

Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man, died last Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, sparking outrage that has swept across a politically and racially divided nation.

Clashes overnight in Minneapolis marked the fifth night of arson, looting and vandalism in parts of the state's largest city, and its adjacent capital, St Paul. The state's governor said on Saturday, local time, that he was activating the full Minnesota National Guard for the first time since World War II.

Thousands of protesters had been marching over the bridge on both lanes before the truck ploughed through. Source: Getty
Thousands of protesters had been marching over the bridge on both lanes before the truck ploughed through. Source: Getty

As the unrest has spread across the nation, curfews have proved little deterrent for some as anger continues to manifest in violence and looting in cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, Cincinnati, Portland, Oregon, and Louisville, Kentucky.

Protesters have flooded streets after weeks of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic that threw millions out of work and hit minority communities especially hard.

As demonstrators broke windows and set fires on Saturday night (local time), police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds in many cities.

In numerous cases, bystanders and members of the media were intentionally targeted.

with Reuters

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