DULUTH — The Duluth Police Department investigated an incident between a motorist and some of the hundreds of protesters at a Rise Up for Roe march downtown Monday evening and found the driver did nothing wrong.
The abortion-rights protest after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week drew 400 to 500 people. It started at the Women's Care Center before protesters marched along sidewalks and spilled into the streets. A video from the event shows a woman driving a white Toyota Corolla down First Avenue E. toward Superior Street, while protesters try to stop her. At least one climbed on her car, and someone hit her windshield with a walking stick as she drove.
Police on Tuesday issued a statement clarifying what happened, after an investigation. The driver had her 6-month-old baby in the car and was unaware of the march as protesters spilled into the street, the statement said. Marchers surrounded the car, some "pulling on door handles and grabbing onto the vehicle while her windows were down."
The driver broke free from the crowd and a man running after her was stopped by a person in a vest marked "Clinic Escort," police said.
The driver pulled over near Lake Avenue and Superior Street and, emotional and fearing for her safety and her baby's, reported the incident to a police sergeant, the statement said. "The driver's primary concern was to leave the area to a place of safety," the statement said.
Police concluded the driver did nothing wrong and that protesters were in the street illegally. Police Chief Mike Tusken said that the person who damaged her windshield admitted their actions and could be charged.
Bria Schurke, who was in the crowd with friends and saw the incident,
was disappointed that an otherwise powerful event had become more about the single incident. She described a friendly crowd with law enforcement officials who seemed to be supportive. "People were screaming and trying to get her to not plow into the crowd. … People were still pretty shaken up about it," she said.
"It's impressive and it was really hopeful to see so many people show up peacefully," she said.