A man who allegedly tried to hit protesters staging a “die-in” against a new health care bill has been arrested by police, and social media posts seem to connect the suspect to a white supremacist Facebook group.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, protesters gathered in downtown San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon to protest the American Health Care Act, the Republican-sponsored measure currently being considered to replace the Affordable Care Act.
As part of the protest, several dozen people laid down in the middle of the street, blocking traffic, as part of a “die-in,” a common protest tactic. Organizers told Hoodline that the die-in was supposed to last 10 minutes and had gone on for seven minutes when they heard a motorcycle revving.
According to CBS San Francisco, the motorcylist was driving the wrong way on the street, and protesters initially thought he was simply confused. However, as he approached the protesters on the ground, he did not stop and appeared to swerve towards them, witnesses say. Video shows the rider slowing slightly as protesters scramble out of the way, then revving through the crowd.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that police surrounded and detained the rider soon after he refused to get off his bike. Video appears to show officers pointing weapons at the rider.
There were no injuries as a result of the incident, and according to local media reports, no charges have been filed against the man, who has not been formally identified. However, the motorcycle used in the incident is registered to Jeffery Dillon of San Francisco, according to the Chronicle and CBS.
On Facebook, a profile with Dillon’s name is listed as an administrator of a group called the “White Privilege Club,” per CBS.
“This isn’t a racist site/group, it is the exact opposite. It is a celebration of our culture and who we are,” Dillon posted on the group page, per the Chronicle.
“The media and these social justice warriors are going to try to shame us with the words ‘white privilege,’ well we will throw it right back at them and wear it as a badge of honor.”
Protesters believe the man on the motorcycle was deliberately attempting to target them and disrupt the protest, and they say they heard him yelling threatening things at the protesters.
“‘If you want to go to the hospital, here you go,’” one protester quoted the man as saying, according to the Chronicle, as well as, “‘You will have health care if you people stop protesting.’”
“He was definitely targeting us,” another protester told CBS. “It was unclear if it was for political reasons or if he was just mentally unstable or what, but it was terrifying.”