MINNEAPOLIS — Day one of jury selection in the Kim Potter manslaughter trial had just come to a close when demonstrators outside the Hennepin County Courthouse say a driver drove into a crowd of people standing on South 7th Street near 4th Avenue South.
The incident was captured on cellphone video and is circulating on social media. No one on the scene was seriously hurt.
Matt Allen, known for his music career under the name NUR-D, is founder of Justice Frontline Aid. Since the 2020 unrest, he and members have worked as safety marshals, wearing reflective vests and redirecting traffic away from demonstrators at various rallies.
Allen said that around 5 p.m. Tuesday, cars were positioned to block off South 7th Street, a one-way road. He says fellow marshals were standing by to redirect traffic and at least one Metro Transit worker was also there redirecting buses, when a driver approached. Allen says despite one marshal's warning to the driver that it would not be safe to drive through the area, the driver expressed he would do so anyway and proceeded to drive onto the sidewalk.
Allen says moments later, the driver moved onto the street and into the crowd before taking off from the area. Allen says marshals shouted, "car, car, car," to alert people to get out of the way in time.
"This is really rough day as someone who wants to make sure people are safe," Allen said. "There could've been deaths of over a dozen people and that's my entire job is to keep people safe."
Minneapolis Police public information officer Garrett Parten said Wednesday that although the driver's license plate is visible on video, the department doesn't plan to pursue the driver — mainly because no one was seriously hurt.
He says when people are using their first amendment right to protest, and there is a person who also has the right to drive on a road that was not approved to be blocked, it's the role of police to decide whose rights to protect in the moment. Parten says the police weren't there at the time of the incident, and says they aren't following up because there doesn't appear to be an ongoing threat.
Parten said they also took the car's slow rate of speed into consideration when making the decision to not pursue the driver.
“It was fast enough that we see one person get pulled on top of the hood,” Allen said. “A multi-ton machine going through a group of flesh-and-blood people — some of them children, some of them elderly. It doesn’t really matter how fast he was going.”