TAMPA (WFLA) – On Tuesday in South Tampa, a crowd of several dozen protestors blocked Howard Avenue.
Witnesses say the protestors blocked cars and screamed at drivers for more than twenty minutes, one driver even going as far as calling 911 to ask for help.
“A bunch of people have blocked my car and they’ve blocked me in, so I can not move. I need the police now. I’m in trouble,” the unidentified driver told the emergency dispatcher.
As the woman spoke to the dispatcher on the phone, other voices can be heard ordering the driver to back up and turn around. The woman in the car refused.
As she spoke to the dispatcher, another driver in a truck went onto a sidewalk and around the protestors who ran after the truck driver.
Cell phone video of the scene shows an opening and the woman on the phone with 911 tries to leave, but a protestor blocks her path.
In social media posts, people claiming to be part of the protest say the woman behind the wheel deliberately tried to run them over.
The woman in the car told the 911 operator she was in fear. As she tried to leave a white Kia rammed into her SUV.
“They just hit me…They just hit me…They just hit me,” the woman told the 911 dispatcher.
Police arrived and arrested Tatiana Elisa Munoz and are charging her with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment.
Tampa Police say Munoz was part of the protest and drove the wrong way down Howard Avenue to block traffic before hitting the victim.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan is urging everyone in these situations to be patient and says protestors and drivers both have rights.
“It’s a very delicate situation and it all just depends. The protestors have no right to take over the roads, but if there are so many in a street, you can’t drive through a crowd either,” said Dugan.
Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Camareno says drivers face criminal action if they drive through a crowd of protestors in the streets.
“Civic responsibility is a two way street. Protestors have a right to protest, they have a right to block traffic as long as it’s peaceful, temporary, reasonable. If I’m the driver, I have a responsibility to let them speak their peace and I can’t do anything to prevent them from speaking their mind, protesting and I certainly can’t run into them or ram them with my car because then that rises to the level of a crime. If I’m the driver, short of my life being in danger, then I just have to ride it out. If I ram them in any way, it could be as little as a misdemeanor battery, an aggravated battery or aggravated assault or God forbid a murder,” said Camareno.
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