The alleged driver, 56-year-old Daniel Wenzek, is accused of being the man behind the wheel of a car that plowed through a group of pro-immigrant protesters who had gathered near the Brea office of Rep. Royce, according to the Los Angeles Times. The protesters had initially assembled outside of Royce's office but, after being told to leave, proceeded to march in a circle at an intersection near his office. Police began to try to shut down the protest at around 12:30 p.m. because it was blocking cars from the intersection. It was at this time that the car began to plow through the protesters.
Although no injuries were reported, organizers claim that several hundred people were protesting at Royce's office, meaning that the driver could have caused multiple casualties. Wenzek was booked and then released pending further investigation.
Wenzek and James Alex Fields Jr. (the accused from Charlottesville) have acted out a right-wing fantasy of driving cars into protesters that long preceded either of their alleged actions. Police officers in Minnesota, New Mexico and Oregon got into trouble in 2016 for joking about using cars to run over Black Lives Matter and other left-wing protesters. There were also actual incidents in which Black Lives Matter protesters were attacked with cars in both Illinois and Missouri, with one 16-year-old girl being injured on the latter occasion.
Even worse, the states of North Dakota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island have all considered laws that would shield drivers who hit protesters from legal ramifications. The first proposed law, in North Dakota, was actually defended on the grounds that it could stop terrorism.
By Matthew Rozsa
Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.