Everett protest ends with dramatic encounter

An SUV sped off with two protesters clinging to its hood. Two were arrested, but not the driver.

EVERETT — What otherwise had been an uneventful and peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in downtown Everett ended Thursday evening when a driver took off in an SUV with two protesters clinging to its hood.

The SUV driver was not arrested, while two protesters were booked into the Snohomish County Jail for disorderly conduct.

According to Everett officer Aaron Snell, investigating police initially determined the driver did nothing that amounted to a crime. That could always change upon further review of the evidence, Snell said.

No one was injured in the encounter, but protesters told The Daily Herald they were fearful someone could have been hurt. They questioned why the driver was not arrested.

Videos posted on social media show a small group of protesters standing in front of an SUV stopped at the intersection of Broadway and Hewitt Avenue. They appear to be standing mostly still until the SUV rolls forward slightly. Then a man who had his hands behind his back climbs onto the hood. The driver keeps moving forward, slowly at first, forcing protesters to move out of the way. A second person, who identifies as nonbinary, climbs onto the hood, too, and partially covers the windshield with a sign.

People can be heard in the videos yelling at the driver to stop. One person calls her a psychopath. The driver speeds up through the intersection. Unmarked police vehicles turn on their emergency lights and one swerves in front of the SUV. The SUV stops briefly, then accelerates again, hitting the police vehicle.

The second person who jumped on the hood was arrested. According to a police report, they were obstructing the driver’s view with the sign, contributing to the crash, Snell said.

Another protester, Benjamin Hansen, also was arrested. Police noted in their report that he had been obstructing traffic earlier in the night and had already been talked to by officers, Snell said.

It’s at least the second time Hansen has been arrested at a demonstration this summer. He was booked for fourth-degree assault after he dangled a doughnut in front of sheriff’s deputies and court marshals at a “Back the Blue” rally in July. Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell said he would not be pursuing charges in that case. Hansen is also seeking a damage claim against the county for $150,000 for what he’s calling a wrongful arrest.

On Friday, Hansen wasn’t one of the protesters who jumped on the hood, nor was he part of the group blocking the SUV. He is seen in videos running after the SUV after it takes off, dropping a megaphone along the way. He doesn’t resist arrest. Someone yells that he didn’t do anything.

Protest organizer Jazz Jarrell said she was helping direct traffic at the intersection, and that cars were being let through in the right lane going southbound, where they could turn onto Hewitt Avenue and take a detour back to Broadway. The SUV driver pulled up in the left lane going southbound, where she was forced to stop by protesters. There, according to Jarrell and others, she began arguing with protesters.

“She was not afraid at all,” Jarrell said. She said the driver appeared to purposefully drive into protesters.

Up to that point, the march had otherwise been peaceful, said protester Crystal Alford, who described it as “more sweet of a protest than an angry protest” with silly moments.

A few people gathered for a parallel “Back the Blue” rally. While the two sides interacted verbally, no violence was reported. Alford described conversations between the two groups as calm. And early on, police appeared to help the Black Lives Matter group carry out their protest, including when they laid down on the street in front of Everett City Hall for 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence, the same amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck last May, ultimately killing him.

The encounter with the SUV happened toward the end of the march, as protesters neared where they had parked. Some protesters lingered and took videos of the arrests. Eventually most people dispersed, as police shut down Broadway in both directions for at least a couple of hours.

Saturday afternoon, Hansen was released from jail after posting $500 bond and the other person was expected to be released soon after.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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