News & Politics

Driver Makes Path Through Protesters in Newport Beach, CA and Drives Straight to Jail

Twitter video screenshot.

Newport Beach, Calif., police made sure City Hall was closed down on Wednesday in case a riot broke out at a planned George Floyd protest, but they might have forgotten something: where would traffic go?

We know where one driver is going: to jail.

A man drove his Mini Cooper subcompact with an Arizona license plate through the frantic crowd this afternoon, narrowly avoiding protesters and clipping a woman’s bicycle.

According to KFI radio reports from the scene, the car came close to hitting children on bicycles and destroyed the peace surrounding the protest. See the video above.

The man was arrested a short time later.

Newport Beach only learned of the planned protest on Monday according to its own social media sites.

According to the city’s website, protesters need a permit in order to march in the streets. The ACLU backs that up. It doesn’t seem logical that a permit could have been obtained on such short notice to take over the streets.

I had some questions for City Hall and the police.

@NewportBeachPD Was there a permit for marching in the street? Was there a police escort for protest? Was there parade route assigned to the protesters? Was there traffic control provided by police for the protest?

I asked the mayor the same thing.

Nothing excuses this douchenozzle driver’s behavior, but don’t discount the value of these questions. In places with frequent protests, such as my hometown of Portland, Oregon, legitimate protesters obtain a parade permit in order to use the streets. Conservative groups routinely had to get permits for public spaces while the International Socialists, anarchists, and antifa got a pass. But that doesn’t mean you don’t play by the rules.

No permit, no street protest. Protesters will be kept on the sidewalks. But in this case, they weren’t.

Having traffic control in an organized protest would set expectations and lessen the anger felt by drivers and maybe, just maybe, this might not have happened. It’s possible Newport Beach Police thought their mere presence would have triggered the crowd.

Even excellent causes, such as peacefully protesting the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, leaders should follow the rules. Giving some protesters a pass while others are required to get permits undermines people’s confidence in the city and in the equal application of the law. Pedantic rant over. And, no, riots don’t count as protests.

Some good news can be reported from today’s protest march, however. There were no riots in Newport Beach before or after that driver’s trip to jail.

 

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