A Black Lives Matter protest turned violent Monday on Long Island when a driver who was stopped by the march drove his car into the crowd, striking two protesters.
It happened around 6:45 p.m. on Broadway near the train station in Huntington. A small group of about 25 protesters were marching with Suffolk County Police standing by in cars to assist with traffic. Matthew Williams was marching when he says a driver deliberately drove into the crowd.
“The car slowed down cause he saw the protest,” recounted Williams. “And then he decided to accelerate into the protesters. I watched my friend Jerry fly onto the hood of the car and fall onto the road.”
Another man was hit as well, but Williams did not witness it happening. Security video obtained by News 4 New York shows the dark gray Toyota Rav4 driving away, with protesters running after it.
Video posted by Williams on social media shows a Suffolk County police officer talking to Williams after he is pulled over. Protesters shouted at the officer to arrest the man, saying he hit others with his car.
“You go to jail now,” you can hear in the video, “We die for less than this.”
Police arrested the driver, 36-year-old Anthony Cambareri, and charged the Coram resident with third degree assault and issued him a desk appearance ticket. One of the two injured protesters, Jerry, is seen in a Facebook video getting out of the hospital. He has a bandaged right hand and his outfit has dirt stains on it, but he is able to walk out. The other man suffered minor injuries.
Cambareri wasn't hurt in the incident and his vehicle was impounded, police said. He will be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip at an unspecified date.
Williams cannot help but wonder if Cambareri would have been treated differently if he was not a white male.
“You wonder why people are frustrated,” said Williams, who became emotional during the interview. “Look at this man. He just walked away with a third degree misdemeanor as if he pushed someone in the mall. You hit someone with your car and you kept going, this is not okay!”
NBC New York went to the driver’s house to seek comment. A man who appeared to look like Cambareri told us he had no idea who he was. Suffolk Police said the investigation continues and detectives are looking for security video.
There have been multiple incidents across the country where protesters have been targeted. In Seattle, a woman was killed after a man drove down a closed freeway where Black Femme March demonstrators were protesting against police brutality.
Last month in Queens, police say a driver threatened protesters with knives before he tried to run them over.