By Tim Gardner
A North Carolina High Country man has been arrested for allegedly running over a Black Lives Matter supporter during a weekend march in Johnson City, TN.
Johnson City police announced on Monday that 27-year-old Jared Benjamin Lafer of Bakersville in Mitchell County was charged with aggravated assault. Lafer surrendered himself to authorities Monday afternoon and was released on a $20,000 bond.
Last Saturday night (September 12), cellphone video posted to social media showed a white Ford Expedition accelerating into two demonstrators who were standing in a crosswalk in front of the vehicle near the intersection of West State of Franklin Road and Spring Street. According to protesters and Johnson City police, the vehicle then left the scene.
Police said Sunday they had identified a person of interest and were coordinating with North Carolina authorities to locate the vehicle involved. In the video, several protesters could be heard yelling that the vehicle had a North Carolina vehicle tag, and a plate number was reportedly given to police.
Video of the incident was posted by Brent Chaffin on Facebook and shared widely on social media. Chaffin, one of the protest organizers, said demonstrators were marching from the Johnson City Police Department when they stopped to demonstrate on either side of a crosswalk near the intersection. They have been Last Saturday doing such during marches in the past week. The video did not show what led up to the incident, but Chaffin said it began when the driver reportedly began inching forward, trying to get past the demonstrators. SEE VIDEO HERE: FACEBOOK POST
At some point, people began to stand in front of the vehicle, which is where the video begins. The video then shows the driver pulling forward, striking two and appearing to run over at least one.
In response to the incident, BLM demonstrators again took to city streets on Sunday. A group of several dozen protesters stopped at the crosswalk where the incident occurred, and demonstrated on both sides of West State of Franklin Road, occasionally switching sides.