One person has been killed and another injured after a man drove his car into Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington state.
Summer Taylor, 24, and Diaz Love, 32, were taking part in a Black Femme March as part of a nightly protest on a closed stretch of Interstate 5 in Seattle when the incident took place early on Saturday, July 4.
Troopers and personnel from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) used their vehicles to block on-ramps as protesters were about to enter the road on their way back to Capitol Hill, after going on their nightly march to the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct.
The vehicle hit both Summer and Diaz and sent them flying into the air. The driver, Dawit Kelete, 27, continued driving for about two miles before police caught him.
Summer and Diaz were taken to Harborview Medical Center, where Summer tragically passed away. Diaz was in serious condition and was take to the intensive-care unit.
Diaz had been livestreaming the march for two hours ahead of the incident, but the stream ended abruptly after shouts of ‘car!’ and the sound of screeching tyres.
A witness to the scene, named Aaron, said:
I don’t know what happened, but it didn’t seem like an accident at all. He didn’t hit his brakes, he didn’t stop.
Summer’s former colleague, Katelyn Hoberecht, said Summer, who used nonbinary pronouns, had showed their support for Black Lives Matter at a number of protests.
Summer has been there since Day One standing up for Black lives. Staying out all day and night, while still working full time taking care of animals.
Summer talked me about the protests, and how incredible it was to be a part of something so huge. A part of history.
Protesters paid tribute to Summer’s passing by passing out flowers during one demonstration:
Kelete was booked into King County Jail on investigation of felony vehicular assault. A probable cause statement cited by the states: ‘At one point [Kelete] asked if the injured pedestrians were okay.’
The probable cause statement did not include possible motive.
As a result of the incident, State Patrol announced it would no longer allow protesters on the interstate.
State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead, who made the decision, commented:
Blocking a freeway is a crime and no longer are we going to enable that criminal conduct to continue. We are not going to be allowing protesters to access the freeway unimpeded, and there are consequences for criminal conduct.
A hearing for Kelete has been scheduled for Monday, July 6, when a judge will make a decision regarding bail.
Fundraisers have been set up for both Diaz and Summer, the latter site having raised more than $44,000 at the time of writing, July 5.
Our thoughts are with both Diaz and Summer’s friends and families at this tragic time.