A video of a vehicle running down protesters in Visalia, California, with more than 3 million views has sparked an investigation at the University of California, Irvine.
In a tweet to followers, UCI announced Sunday that the university was aware of a video showing a blue Jeep striking two protesters in Visalia during a weekend of protests against police brutality across the nation. The announcement comes after Twitter users began identifying the Jeep’s owner as a potential UC Irvine student and demanding the university address the allegations.
It is unclear if the owner of the Jeep was driving the vehicle at the time.
A message to the UCI community regarding a recent incident in Visalia, CA. pic.twitter.com/VWOpDdA29o
— UC Irvine (@UCIrvine) May 31, 2020
“We are aware of the incident in Visalia, CA on May 30 possibly involving a student from UCI. We are deeply alarmed by the footage and condemn any acts of violence, which is in opposition to our core values of mutual respect and opposition. The matter has been forwarded to the appropriate campus authorities for review,” the university tweeted on May 31.
There are hundreds here in Visalia for this Black Lives Matter protest. pic.twitter.com/z1xBAIp26N
— Vongni Yang (@Vongni) May 30, 2020
The video, which began circulating on social media Saturday, gained more 3 million views in less than 24 hours. The scene has similar characteristics to other videos posted from this weekend’s anti-police brutality demonstrations which erupted in other parts of the country, to protest the death of George Floyd.
Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he complained of difficulties breathing has been charged with third degree murder.
Los Angeles has seen days of largely peaceful protests, marked by occasional looting and violence. In response, Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered a curfew Saturday night and requested support from the National Guard. The curfew, which applies to the entire city of Los Angeles and has been emulated by some area cities, will again be in effect Sunday night.
It’s unclear where the Visalia video originated, but in the clip protesters can be seen waving signs and chanting at oncoming traffic.
At some point in the 12-second clip, a blue Jeep with an American flag, along with a Trump 2020 flag, can be seen driving past the group of protesters. As the jeep comes to a stop, a protester walks in front of the car. Before the clip ends, the Jeep suddenly accelerates into two female protesters, who suffered minor injuries. The group of protesters can be seen chasing the Jeep as it drives off.
The vehicle’s occupants reported the incident, alleged the father of one of the Jeep’s occupants in online postings. We reached out to the Visalia Police Department for a copy of the report, but “the investigation involving the incident with the Jeep is ongoing and the report is not completed or available at this time,” the department replied in a written statement.
As the video populated social media, people began identifying the Jeep’s occupants as UCI and Fresno State students. Fresno State also addressed the situation in a series of tweets.
We have been made aware of an incident that took place in Visalia today (5/30/20) that involved two people who may be enrolled students at Fresno State. As such, pursuant to campus protocol, the matter has been referred to the Dean of Students.
— Fresno State (@Fresno_State) May 31, 2020
The Visalia Police Department also issued a statement, via Twitter.
We aware of the incident that occurred involving a blue Jeep and protesters earlier today.
The two adult females both received minor injuries. The incident is being investigated by our Traffic Unit.
None of the occupants in the Jeep are children of a Visalia officer. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/97NoKslnEN
— Visalia Police Dept. (@Visaliapd) May 31, 2020
Editor’s Note: The University of California, Irvine, was originally referred to as the University of Irvine.