A 55-year-old Needham man is facing charges after he interrupted a youth-led Black Lives Matter demonstration outside Newton City Hall on Tuesday, shouted at teens and teachers, then sped away in a pickup truck — nearly hitting participants.
Newton police are charging the man, who was not identified, with operating a motor vehicle so as to endanger. He is also charged with failure to use care when starting a motor vehicle, in violation of a city ordinance, police said Thursday.
It is unclear when the Needham man will appear in court.
Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker, a police spokesman, said he could not identify the man because he had not been arrested or arraigned.
Apotheker said officers had interviewed multiple witnesses and carefully reviewed cellphone video of the incident. “It was a thorough investigation,” he said.
The man, who was wearing a face mask, emerged from City Hall just as the demonstration’s first speaker, 15-year-old Uche Okonkwo, began to address the crowd, according to witnesses.
The man yelled, “Do all Black lives matter?” When the crowd responded yes, he shouted, “What about the unborn Black babies?” according to video posted online and witness accounts.
Protesters shouted back and told the man to leave. He briefly turned away, but after Okonkwo shouted back at him, the man swung around and attempted to approach her, though members of the crowd, including parents and teachers, intervened, according to witnesses.
The man eventually turned again to leave, but when he got into his truck, he bypassed a nearby entrance and instead circled the oval driveway and paused in front of City Hall, honking his horn, witnesses said.
As some demonstrators approached the truck, the man accelerated, and several people had to jump back to avoid being hit, according to witnesses and video.