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DES MOINES – A vehicle transporting Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds struck a Black Lives Matter protester Tuesday as the protester was intentionally blocking the car's path.
A group of about two dozen Des Moines Black Lives Matter activists showed up to Reynolds' public events in Steamboat Rock and Ackley, each about 90 miles from Des Moines, on Tuesday to urge her to immediately sign an executive order restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions who have completed their sentences. Reynolds has said she will sign the order but not immediately.
The activists were not allowed into Reynolds' events, which were held on private property, so a group of them stood in the driveway of Family Traditions Meat in Ackley to block Reynolds from driving away.
Jaylen Cavil, an organizer with Des Moines Black Lives Matter, said he was standing in the driveway hoping that Reynolds would roll down the window of the vehicle and speak to them.
"The SUV that Gov. Reynolds was driving in drove right up to me. I was standing right in front of the car and I just stood there. I was like, 'I’m going to stand here. Surely the driver of the governor is not going to hit me with her car. This is the governor, my governor, who’s supposed to be representing me. I’m sure that her car is not going to intentionally hit me.' I was wrong," he said.
Cavil said he was not injured, but it was shocking when the vehicle hit him. He said the impact spun him around and lifted him slightly onto the hood of the vehicle.
Reynolds' spokesperson, Pat Garrett, declined to comment but a spokesperson for the Iowa State Patrol confirmed the incident.
Sgt. Alex Dinkla, a spokesperson for the Iowa State Patrol, said in a statement:
"Today, the Iowa State Patrol investigated an incident that occurred near Ackley, Iowa, involving a demonstrator and a state-owned vehicle transporting Governor Reynolds. The vehicle was operated by a member of the Iowa State Patrol. As the vehicle started to leave a scheduled stop and enter the roadway, a demonstrator approached which caused the Governor’s vehicle to slow. The demonstrator stopped short and to the side of the vehicle. As the vehicle began to turn away from the protestor and onto the roadway, the demonstrator intentionally stepped in front of the slowly moving vehicle.
"The demonstrator had little to no physical reaction to any contact he created and the vehicle then entered the roadway. Iowa State Troopers on scene made contact with the demonstrator and advised him to discontinue his efforts to block traffic.The demonstrator did not appear to suffer any injury, made no request for medical attention, and immediately began shouting obscenities at the responding personnel. The demonstrator and his group then proceeded to block members of the Iowa State Patrol from leaving the area."
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The vehicle drove away after it struck him, Cavil said. Afterward, Cavil said an Iowa State Patrol officer walked up to him began yelling at him and called him an idiot.
Cavil said he believes the driver of the vehicle hit him intentionally. He said the driver stopped in front of him for a second and then accelerated.
"I 100% think they intentionally hit me," he said. "There's no way that this driver could not see me right in front of his car."
Two other activists, Matthew Bruce and Grace Merritt, confirmed Cavil's account of what happened.
Cavil was part of the group of Black Lives Matter activists who met with Reynolds twice in her office at the Iowa Capitol to demand she sign an executive order restoring voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences. Reynolds has said she will sign an order by the late summer or early fall, but activists and every Democratic member of the Iowa Legislature have urged her to sign the order by July 4.
Cavil said he and other activists will continue attending Reynolds' events to pressure her to sign the order.
"We just want answers. That’s why we’re following her around. We want her to know that we are not going to stay silent," he said.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa governor's vehicle strikes BLM protester while leaving event