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Organizer arrested after driving car into California protest

Posted at 4:23 PM, Sep 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-27 19:23:57-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An organizer of a Southern California demonstration against racism was in jail Sunday on suspicion of attempted murder after authorities say she drove through a crowd and struck two counterprotesters.

Tatiana Turner, 40, was arrested Saturday in Yorba Linda after speeding from a parking lot when her car was surrounded by shouting counterprotesters who had been ordered by police to leave the area.

Anthony Bryson, who helped Turner plan the event for the Urban Organizers Coalition, said an angry mob had surrounded Turner and wouldn’t let her leave the lot.

“People had broken her windshield,” Bryson told The Associated Press. “She was trying to leave. She was in fear for her life.”

About 150 people in Turner’s group had been protesting police brutality and systemic racism at the Yorba Linda library about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles when a group of counterprotesters, began to grow on the other side of Imperial Highway.

The two groups initially stayed apart, as authorities requested, but the counterprotesters then crossed the six-lane highway and confronted the racial justice group.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department declared an unlawful assembly and told the groups, estimated at 250 people total, to leave after fights were reported and some people were said to be carrying weapons. One person pepper-sprayed another protester and one man was arrested for disobeying the order to leave, police said.

Video of the incident shows loud protesters, some waving American flags and a Trump 2020 banner, around Turner’s white car as she accelerates away. Her rear window shatters as she drives away and dozens of people give chase.

A man, who had both legs broken, and a woman with moderate injuries were hospitalized, authorities said.

Turner is being held on $1 million bail and expected to appear in court Tuesday, according to a county website. It was not immediately known if she had a lawyer.

The city of Yorba Linda does not require a permit to demonstrate for crowds smaller than 500 people and neither had a permit, sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun said. Bryson said the group had been in discussions with police and the Yorba Linda mayor in advance.

The protest came three days after an Orange County deputy in San Clemente shot and killed a Black homeless man. The sheriff released a video that he said showed the man grabbing for the officer’s weapon.

The collision was one of several around the nation involving protesters, including one that happened Thursday in Los Angeles.

A woman protesting police brutality was struck by a pickup truck during a march in Hollywood and suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Los Angeles police said Friday the preliminary investigation found that the driver was attempting to maneuver through the crowd when protesters began beating the vehicle with sticks.

The driver stopped several blocks away and cooperated with officers. He was released pending the outcome of the investigation.