In tragic news, 24-year-old Summer Taylor, a Black Lives Matter protester, was killed on Saturday evening after being struck by a car while protesting in Seattle. The road had been closed to vehicles to allow the demonstration to take place. The driver of the vehicle, a 27-year-old man, has been placed in custody following this incident, per NPR. A fellow protester, 32-year-old Diaz Love, was also struck by the car. Love is currently hospitalized and remains in serious condition.
Authorities shared that the driver of the vehicle barreled past a police barrier onto the freeway and into a group of protesters on Saturday evening. As of right now, officers have not offered a motive. However, Capt. Ron Mead said that officers did not believe that the driver was impaired at the time of the incident. During a press conference, Mead did not share any details regarding how the driver made their way past the police barrier. But, he did say that this incident should be a warning to protesters who wish to demonstrate on the interstate. Mead said, "My hope is, as a result of this tragedy, protesters will reconsider their desire to be on the interstate because I cannot guarantee their safety, plain and simple."
Mead continued to explain during the press conference that protesters have forced closures on Interstate 5 every day for nearly three weeks. He added that that freeway is "simply not a safe place" for those protesters to gather. Ever since these anti-racism protests erupted in late May, there have been reports of at least 50 vehicle-ramming incidents. Many of those incidents are suspected attacks by right-wing extremists who are targeting Black Lives Matter protesters. "The message they're trying to send is, 'You need to get out of the street and stop these protests,'" Ari Weil, the terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago, previously told NPR regarding this topic. "They're trying to intimidate the most recent wave of BLM protesters to stop their movement."
Following the news of their passing, many of those who knew Taylor are paying tribute to them. Katelyn Hoberecht, who worked with Taylor at the Urban Animal veterinary clinics, told the Seattle Times that her late co-worker had frequently attended Black Lives Matter protests. Hoberecht explained, "Summer has been there since Day One standing up for Black lives. Staying out all day and night, while still working full time taking care of animals. Summer talked me about the protests, and how incredible it was to be a part of something so huge. A part of history."