Several activists protesting California Republican Congressman Ed Royce’s immigration policies were reportedly hospitalized after a motorist drove his car through their rally on Thursday.
Daniel Wenzek, 56, was arrested for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after pressing his vehicle through a cluster of protesters marching across a crosswalk in the city of Brea, CA. Video of the incident shows at least one protester forced up on the hood of Wenzek’s car, before it slowed to a stop. Police immediately swarmed the vehicle and detained Wenzek.
Calling the incident “what appears to be a deliberate and hateful crime,” the SEIU-USWW union, which helped organize the protest, claimed six of its members were sent to the hospital “for evaluation.”
“Vehicular attacks have actually been actively promoted by the forces right-wing extremism,” the union added, likely in reference to the protester Heather Heyer, who was killed by a white nationalist in Charlottesville earlier this year.
The protest had been called to deliver letters to Rep. Royce regarding the upcoming Temporary Protective Status deadline for some immigrants. As the SEIU-USWW wrote:
The workers who visited Congressman Royce’s office today aimed to draw attention to the suffering faced by immigrants covered by Temporary Protective Status, who are now under threat by the Trump Administration with the complicity of Rep. Royce and others in Congress who have turned their backs on these refugees.
Despite booking Wenzek for the incident, Brea police are hesitant to describe his actions as politically motivated.
“I think he was trying to get through the crowd,” Lt. Adam Hawley told the News Tribune. “We don’t have any indication he was trying to harm somebody.”
Authorities have since released Wenzek—who was convicted in 2006 of committing “lewd and lascivious acts” with a child—pending further investigation.