ITHACA, N.Y. –– City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick released security footage from Ithaca Police Department Headquarters documenting the interaction between Black Lives Matter protesters marching up Clinton St. and a vehicle caught in their midst. The video can be seen below.
The release comes as police continue to investigate an alleged assault that occurred during Sunday’s march involving a male bystander pushing anti-BLM sentiment and rally-goers. Video of the incident taken by protesters appears to show the bystander punching a protester, after which the bystander was pushed to the ground. The footage the city officially released Thursday stops short of showing the actual assault because the investigation into that incident is ongoing, city officials said. The police version of events has been widely challenged by protesters who attended the event.
Myrick offered a statement along with the release of the footage, recounting what he had learned over the last three days during conversations with those involved. He also did not address the alleged assault, citing the ongoing investigation, but did provide some clarification to the protester/vehicle incident, saying that he has concluded that there was at least some level of miscommunication and confusion between the two groups, which was to blame for the situation— as opposed to malice on the part of the elderly drivers. The vehicle was “damaged,” Myrick said, but credited the protesters with eventually settling things with the drivers and allowing them through.
“I spoke to the motorists – a couple in their 80s – and I believe they meant no harm to the protestors,” Myrick wrote. “I believe that they broadly support the cause of racial equality and justice, and simply found themselves surrounded by people in the street and were unsure what to do. I also spoke to a couple of protestors and believe that they were sincere in their fear that the car intended to strike them – and reacted out of concern for their colleagues. They are aware of other deadly clashes in other parts of the country, and desired to keep their friends safe.”
Further, Myrick urged for patience and calmness at the Sunday rallies going forward. He thanked IPD for its work over the past several weeks of protests, most of which have been directed at calling for the department’s budget to be cut and that money redirected to community services. Though the weekly protests were almost entirely peaceful for the first 11 or so weeks, the last few have seen an uptick in both tension with Ithaca police, who have taken to snapping pictures of protesters but have yet to explain why, and confrontations between protesters and passers-by. The fight that is under investigation from last Sunday’s protest is the most notable incident of violence during the months-long run of protests.
“Points of pedestrian-vehicular conflict always pose safety concerns, and I encourage all to minimize them,” Myrick said. “Honestly I am worried that situations like this could grow out of control and, as we saw on Sunday, even people who agree can scare each other and hurt each other. So I would urge everyone – protesters, bystanders, motorists, everyone – to be patient with each other. I’d ask us to whenever possible assume positive intent. And in these very stressful times continue to strive to be the best Ithaca we can – a City famous for love, inclusion, and a vocal passionate insistence that a more just world is possible.”
Watch the video below, taken from an IPD HQ exterior camera, as well as other video sent to the city: