A man accused of ramming his truck into protesters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, has been detained, jail records show.
David Huston, 53, was booked Tuesday in Linn County and charged with assault using a deadly weapon and leaving the scene. Video from that day shows a truck bowling over peaceful protesters at the tail end of a procession as they crossed the street at a crosswalk. Several of the protesters, who were gathered in support of abortion rights, ended up in the hospital.
Despite a significant amount of evidence from the scene, the investigation was delayed in part because one of the witnesses was Linn County Prosecutor Nick Maybanks, who told HuffPost he was recusing himself from the case and forwarding it to neighboring Black Hawk County.
In a press release Tuesday, Black Hawk County Prosecutor Brian Williams alleged that Huston drove his truck “aggressively” into the “peaceful” protest, but Williams said he didn’t find evidence of political motivation in the attack.
“Huston had a green light [and] he appears to aggressively approach with his vehicle while the protestors remained on foot[.] Other vehicles in the area appear to simply wait for the protestors,” the release says. “There is no evidence known to us that this was in any way politically motivated nor is there any evidence that the protestors were aggressive in any way towards any members of the public.”
Victims alleged to HuffPost at the time that Huston maneuvered his truck around other vehicles so he could speed through the intersection, directly toward them.
“We made eye contact at that point, and I saw hate. Just hate,” said one protester who was hit. “He screamed at me to move, and I remember shouting ‘No,’ and he started driving. And that’s when I knew I was going to get run over.”
Witnesses initially worried the driver wouldn’t be prosecuted. Police who interviewed Huston at the scene declined to press charges at the time. Victims were even worried they might face charges: Iowa is one of several states where Republicans have passed laws increasing penalties for protesters and granting leniency to drivers who hit demonstrators. Iowa’s law effectively eliminates civil liability for those drivers.
Political violence — particularly in the form of vehicular assaults — has seen a marked increase at American demonstrations and protests.
Andy Campbell is the author of “We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism,” coming to bookstores on Sept. 20.