Riverside protesters struck in hit-and-run

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- A Riverside protest over recent police killings in Ferguson, Missouri and New York spun out of control, when a BMW pushed through the crowd and struck a handful of protesters Saturday evening, Riverside police said.

About 50 people were blocking Mission Inn Avenue at about 7 p.m. during the city's Festival of Lights, an annual five-week attraction on Main Street Riverside that includes holiday decorations, lights, an ice skating rink and other entertainment, when the driver plowed through and drove off.

California Highway Patrol officers shut down the westbound 91 Freeway at Mission Inn Avenue shortly after 7 p.m. due to the demonstrations, officials said.

"They were offered several different places, venues to protest. They elected to stay on the road for about 45 minutes and then they moved on," Riverside Police Lt. Julian Hutzler said.

Protester Nikohl Vandel said she was struck in the stomach by the car's side view mirror, which fell off. Vandel added that four people she was standing with were also hit.

"A guy was just honking at us and honking," protester Mariah McCoy said. "We wouldn't move because we were chanting, and he just sped over and hit me on my leg, but I was able to move before he hit my whole body."

Riverside police were searching for a dark-colored BMW involved in the hit-and-run. A report filed by the victims claimed they had their toes run over, officials said. None of the protesters had any major injuries.

The protest was among several that have taken place across the country after two separate grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers accused of killing unarmed black men.

Videos shot by witnesses showed protesters chanting, "No justice, no peace. No racist police," and "Peaceful protest."

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