Three Occupy DC demonstrators cited for walking against a don’t walk signal and obstructing traffic after they were struck by a car outside the Washington Convention Center are telling police their side of the story.
Dozens of protesters gathered at police headquarters Monday, saying they would stay until police talked to them about the incident, News4’s Darcy Spencer reported. Police invited the three people who were struck inside Monday afternoon.
Occupy DC also has provided a police report supporting their account that a driver who struck those three previously hit a fourth person. Georgia Pearce, 28, was struck by a silver car under a convention center sky walk five minutes before a silver Lexus struck Heidi Sippel, of Vandalia, Ohio; her 13-year-old son and her wife, Brandy Sippel.
Witnesses said they chased the car after the 28-year-old woman was struck and saw it hit the other three, News4’s Darcy Spencer reported.
The driver was not cited in the second incident because he had a green light. Two witnesses told police that the three pedestrians ran toward or jumped in front of the car, and one jumped on the hood.
“The protesters were apparently trying to block the roadway,” Lt. Christopher Micciche said Saturday. “It was essentially an accident where three individuals were injured but they were in violation by being in the roadway.”
Protesters tell a different story. They say the driver slowed down, threw up his hands in apparent frustration and then drove into them. Brandy Sippel, who is six months pregnant, was grazed by the car's rear-view mirror, the Associated Press reported. Heidi Sippel said she and her son were both hit by the front of the car.
“He just threw his hands up and hit the gas,” Heidi Sippel said of the driver.
According to a police report, the driver, identified in a police report as Shawn Valentine, of Clinton, Md., told officers he observed a clearing between the protesters and tried to pass between them when the demonstrators jumped “onto and in front of his vehicle.”
A statement from Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that the department will not tolerate violence or aggression and that demonstrations prior to Friday's had been peaceful, but the demonstration at the convention center turned aggressive. She cited at least five people injured.
"Demonstrators have become increasingly confrontational and violent toward uninvolved bystanders and motorists," the statement read. "Demonstrators have also jeopardized the safety of their own children by using them in blockades."
"There is no evidence to show that protesters directly caused any injuries to anyone," read an Occupy DC statement released Monday afternoon. "The injuries cited by police were perpetrated by others against peaceful Occupy DC protesters -- making today’s police statement all the more dishonest.
"Besides the driver who sent four of our protesters to the hospital, the only additional case where the cause of injury is directly known involved a man from the conservative conference who pushed a woman over."
At the convention center Friday, Occupy DC protested the conservative Defending the American Dream summit designed to send a message to Congress and President Barack Obama opposing growing federal government intrusion and debt.