GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) -Greenville Police Department officials issued a statement Wednesday in regard to an incident that happened at an Upstate restaurant earlier this week.
We reported earlier that police were asking for the public’s help in identifying a driver of an SUV after an incident during Monday’s protest at Tanner’s Big Orange.
While dozens of protesters gathered outside of the restaurant, some said the driver of the SUV intentionally swerved at them while driving through the parking lot of the restaurant.
Police said earlier that they were not sure, they are investigating the incident and wanted to question the driver.
Now local activists are speaking out about the incident.
“We were the victims in this, and that’s the problem. And that’s what we talk about when we say fairness and equal justice that everybody should be treated the same,” Bruce Wilson, of Fighting Injustice Together, said.
The protest Monday was in response to social media posts made by John Zeller, the restaurant’s owner.
“He’s posted a lot of derogatory comments about black people, about Black Lives Matter, a lot of sexist comments,” Derrick Quarles, of Black Lives Matter Upstate, said.
Now, the frustration has turned toward the driver of the vehicle.
“What happened out there with that vehicle and law enforcement reactions, that’s what allowed George Floyd to lose his life,” Wilson said.
They also have concerns over what they’re calling lack of help from officers on the scene at the time.
“So while they stood there fussing at us they allowed the person who plowed through the crowd to continue to move through,” Traci Fant, of Upstate Freedom Fighters, said.
Acting Chief Howie Thompson said they are doing everything they can to compile a complete investigation into the incident.
“There were a lot of people out on that scene we are systematically identifying and interviewing people,” Thompson said.
He said he understands the community is asking for action, but says these things take time.
“Everybody wants to see this come to an end and we agree with that. But we want it to come to the right conclusion,” Thompson said.
In the statement Wednesday, police said investigators are “working to review all of the evidence in this case. They are attempted to identify and contact additional witnesses who were on scene to give statements and to provide any video evidence they may have.”
“Due to the large number of people who were on scene, it is imperative for us to gather as much information as possible to ensure a thorough investigation is completed,” according to the statement. “We appreciate your patience as we continue to evaluate evidence that will allow us to analyze this incident from every possible angle.”
But local activists say their demands are clear. They want the man driving the SUV to be arrested by the end of the day Wednesday.
“Today is the day. Arrest him. Arrest him because Black Lives Matter,” Wilson said.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call Capt. G.K. Smith at 864-467-5313.