In jarring video coming out of Reno, Nevada, a white pick-up truck driven by an 18-year-old drove through a crowd of Native American protesters demonstrating against Columbus Day and the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The footage – streamed through Facebook – shows the drivers arguing with activists before accelerating into the crowd amid screams and toppling bodies. Protesters including mothers clutching babies and elderly participants. A 59-year-old woman remains hospitalized but is purportedly in stable condition.
Shortly after the incident, the driver pulled over and called the police, and is currently cooperating with authorities, who are yet to make any arrests. According to protesters, the truck had passed by the demonstrators before the attack, shouting obscenities and threatening to kill people.
Representatives from Native American organizations – including Quanah Brightman of United Native Americans, INC – called for authorities to investigate the incident as a hate crime. Though describing the footage as “horrifying,” Reno Police Chief Jason Soto would not tell reporters whether or not the department was going to label the vehicular assault a hate crime.
Native American activists and allies have argued for changing Columbus Day – a federally recognized holiday – to indigenous people’s day, citing the well-documented fact that Christopher Columbus and his expedition immediately enslaved and killed indigenous inhabitants they encountered upon arriving to what is now considered the Americas.
Many cities have codified the new holiday, including Denver, CO; Albuquerque NM; Portland, OR; Olympia, WA; and St. Paul, MN.
In recent months, Native American civil rights protests have merged with the environmental movement to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, creating a unique and dynamic campaign for positive social change.
Impact Tap will post further details on the Reno incident as they emerge.