A red pickup truck can be seen in the crosswalk at Centre and High streets in Bath Thursday. Photo courtesy of James Dillon III

BATH — Bath police are investigating a confrontation between a group of protesters and the driver of a pickup truck who allegedly drove into protesters as they crossed the street at a crosswalk Thursday evening.

A group of about 30 protesters marched from city hall to the Sagadahoc County Courthouse Thursday to protest racism and police brutality. Protesters left the courthouse bound for the Bath Police Department. They were crossing the road in the crosswalk, holding signs and chanting at motorists at the intersection of Centre and High streets around 4:15 p.m.

“During this time, a red pickup truck, driven by an 83-year-old Bath man, approached the intersection and stopped in the midst of the protestors, who were around the truck,” according to Andrew Booth, Bath’s deputy police chief. “The driver then proceeded slowly through the intersection, moving past the protestors while they banged on his truck to get him to stop. He then left the area.”

The protestors called police to report a hit and run. There were no reported injuries.

Leah Hayes said she volunteered to stand in the crosswalk on Centre Street to signal to drivers to stop while the group crossed the street. She said the truck came to a complete stop before the crosswalk.

“It really gave the appearance he was going to let us all cross and then with people still on the crosswalk, put his foot on the gas and started driving toward the people,” Hayes said.

She didn’t move, since she had volunteered to help other protesters cross safely, Hayes said, and the man continued to drive. With the front of the truck pressing against her abdomen, Hayes said the driver kept edging forward, forcing her to step back until the vehicle was in the midst of the group crossing the crosswalk.

Rose Cruz, one of the protest organizers, said she had already cross Centre Street and was in the crosswalk on High Street when she saw the red pickup truck starting to move forward.

“I was quite literally facing him and I saw the body language of his car and I immediately said, ‘Wow, slow down,’ and he slowed down just to physically push these people with his car,” Cruz said. “They were physically on the crosswalk and he pushed them I want to say about 5 feet. He had his front end on their stomachs pushing them back.”

Several protesters put their hands on the front of the truck as other protesters yelled at the driver to stop.

Cruz said protesters have video and photos documenting what happened and have given their statements to police.

Booth said Monday police are still investigating the confrontation. The police department will forward their report to the Sagadahoc District Attorney’s office to determine if any charges will be issued against the driver.

Booth said police have talked to the driver of the red pickup truck but declined to release his name since no charges have been filed. He is a local, Booth said.

Given what police have gathered for information so far, “I don’t think this was a malicious intent on the part of the driver,” Booth said.

Both Hayes and Cruz disagreed. Hayes called it an act of hate and an assault. Cruz said she felt threatened by the driver of the truck, who she said rolled down his window and raised his middle finger after he got through the group the protesters.

Cruz argued that anyone with a driver’s license knows that even if someone is waiting at the side of a crosswalk, traffic should stop, “so the fact that there was a giant group of people in the crosswalk and you continue to push your vehicle until people are 5 feet in front of the crosswalk, there’s a problem.”

Hayes said that a police officer drove by shortly after the truck drove off, so protesters tried to flag the officer down. Hayes said he kept driving, so protesters continued their march to the police department where they reported the red truck. Police didn’t express a sense of urgency and Hayes said she wants to see justice served on the driver of the truck.

Booth said the officer who didn’t stop for protesters was responding to a hold-up alarm and couldn’t stop. Police received a call about the confrontation and were already searching for the red truck when protesters arrived at the police station, he said.


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