George Floyd protests: Fuel truck drives at crowd of protesters on Minneapolis highway

Andrew Buncombe

A fuel truck has ploughed into crowds of protesters marching along a Minneapolis highway – heightening tensions in a city already pushed to the edge.

After a day that had been seen entirely peaceful demonstrations, local television stations were broadcasting live as the truck drove into the people, who numbered in the hundreds.

Protesters scatter as a tanker truck drives towards them on 35W highway during a demonstration against police violence following the killing of George Floyd (REUTERS)

It was not immediately clear how many people were hurt in the incident, which happened at around 6pm local time, though reports suggested many may have had a very narrow escape.

“We are looking at the people – thousands on the ground,” said a presenter for KSTP News, the local ABC News affiliate.

“They seem to be dispersing right now. They’re moving across.”

His colleague, a woman, continued: “What’s going on. Oh my god

“That vehicle made its way. It’s being surrounded now.”

Shortly after the incident, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said the driver of the truck had been arrested.

“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” it said on Twitter.

“The truck driver was injured and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune said the incident happened on the I-35W bridge heading into the city.

“Witnesses said dozens of marchers were sitting or had taken a knee for a moment of silence when the truck came hurtling towards them and stopped halfway across the bridge,” the newspaper reported. “Then demonstrators appeared to drag the driver out of the truck.”

Drew Valle, a special education teacher at Minneapolis Washburn High School, told the newspaper that cars still driving on the roadway were going slowly to the right of people when the truck came speeding towards the marchers.

“He wasn’t stopping. He was beeping loudly and driving into a crowd of people,” said Mr Valle.

“That’s the same kind of malice that brought us here. It’s a callous disregard for someone’s humanity.”

The incident, which happened on the sixth day of protests since the death in police custody of 46-year George Floyd, added tension to an already strained atmosphere in the city.

Authorities had previously said white supremacists and extremists had been taking advantage of the protests of the death of the unarmed black man, to cause damage and do harm.

Governor Tim Walz said state officials estimated that 80 per cent of the people involved in the violence and destruction were from outside the state, though local media has challenged this claim after examining arrest records.

At the same time, Donald Trump has blamed left-wing activists for the violent protests in Minneapolis and other cities, and declared his administration will move to designate the loose association of militant left-wing, anti-fascist demonstrators commonly known as “Antifa” as a terrorist organisation.