Anti-protestor sentiment has once again sparked violence, this time in Southern California. Local Brea resident Daniel Wenzek, a white man of 56, has been arrested and charged with suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after driving his car through a crowd of immigration activists outside the offices of Republican Representative Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), who was not present for the incident.
Several hundred protesters had formed a circle and were marching in the intersection of Birch Street and Brea Boulevard, demanding a discussion on immigration reform from Royce, whose staff refused to let them into the office.
Wenzek decided he didn’t want to wait for them to disperse. He began slowly driving through the crowd in an intimidating manner before accelerating, forcing Claudia Aguilera to leap onto the hood to avoid being crushed.
“My only thought is that I just want him to stop I’m like, if I just jump on the car, he’s going to stop. He did stop, thank God, because if he didn’t stop, he would [have] run over a lot of people that [were] crossing the street. It was so quick” recounted Aguilera to the LA Times.
The president of the SEIU United Service Workers West labor union, David Huerta, says that several of his members have gone to the hospital for injuries, but none were officially reported to the police. Huerta plans to hold a press conference tomorrow at the same spot to reiterate his call for a meeting with Royce.
Representative Royce has given the usual statement about deploring violence and looking forward to engaging with the community on the subject of immigration reform.
Wenzek is believed to be have been forced to register sex offender for lewd acts with a child under the age of 14, if this online database is correct.
Attacking protestors with vehicles is a tactic favored not only by terrorist groups like Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) but also by American right-wingers, one of whom murdered protestor Heather Heyer and injured many others when he drove his vehicle into a crowd during the “Unite The Right” hate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Republican lawmakers in six states are in the process of passing laws to protect drivers who run over protestors, essentially legalizing what is at its heart a terrorist act.
It is unclear as of yet whether or not Wenzek was politically motivated.
But it just goes to show how one attack can prompt copycats around the nation – and that the safety of American protestors and their right to free speech is in more danger than it has been in many years.