During the chaos that erupted in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, a tanker truck drove down a highway that was filled with protesters. Protesters pulled the truck driver, Bogdan Vechirko, out of the truck and beat him. He suffered cuts to his face and also had his phone and wallet stolen. Police then arrested Vechirko. This despite the fact that authorities failed to properly barricade the Interstate 35 West Bridge, and despite the fact that Vechirko noticeably slowed down in an attempt to avoid hitting anyone, as can be seen in the videos at the above link.
My first reaction upon hearing of this incident was, “Is it now customary to arrest the victims of crimes instead of the perpetrators?”
Fortunately, Vechirko was released without charges being filed.
But unfortunately, there is now a racist petition calling for Vechirko to be arrested again. The anonymous individual who created the petition on change.org wrote the following:
so on May 31st we had a peaceful protest from the US BANK STADIUM to 35W bridge until a white a supremacist came in with his semi gas truck and ploughed through us. and no the highway wasn’t open but rather closed for the protest. It was the most traumatic experience of my life and I’ll never forget the ones who helped me when I was in panic. this could’ve turned into a mass killing but it was a miracle that no one was hurt. and the fact that he planned all this and was seeing through to it was just inhuman and disgusting. we read his texts from his phone and this was clearly premeditated. what he did was terrorism and he should be charged for it! if a black man or a Muslim man did this he would be long gone and convicted and the media would blast him as a terrorist ASAP. they didn’t even handcuff him and were protecting him but it’s okay to do that to black people and even kill them? “peaceful protestors are being teargassed, run over, and beat up before being unlawfully arrested, but this guy–WHO DROVE INTO A CROWD–was released without being charged bc he was “frustrated” by traffic? Sounds about white.” And that’s white privilege people. I demand that we come together to combat racial injustice in this broken justice system and that they treat everyone with equality.
There are so many things wrong with this that it’s hard to figure out where to start.
- First of all, someone creating a petition calling for an innocent person to be arrested should at least use proper punctuation and grammar.
- Second, what evidence does this individual have that Vechirko was a white supremacist? How could someone think it is even remotely acceptable to just state that someone is a white supremacist without providing any evidence to back up that claim?
- Third, the highway was not closed for the protest. Authorities were intending to barricade the highway but did not do it quickly enough, and Vechirko and his truck were already on the bridge before they had time to put barricades up.
- Fourth, it was the most traumatic experience of your life? Seriously? You chose to go onto a highway to protest. Highways are for driving on. You have no right to be upset when a truck does exactly what it is supposed to do on a highway. Vechirko is the one who was dragged out of his truck and beaten by a mob, and you, a member of that mob, complain that you are traumatized?
- Fifth, it seems that the individual behind the petition is claiming that he/she read texts from Vechirko’s phone after the group of protesters stole it. I don’t think that being part of a mob who beat and robbed someone is something that one should brag about.
- Sixth, if a black person or Muslim was beaten and robbed by a mob for driving a truck on a highway, he/she would be neither “long gone and convicted” nor “blasted as a terrorist ASAP.” He/she would be portrayed as a victim and martyr and would not have been arrested in the first place.
- Seventh, it was correct for the police to protect Vechirko and not handcuff him, because he did nothing wrong and was the victim of a crime.
- Eighth, “sounds about white” is a blatantly racist statement. Why do you think that it is OK to insult someone because of the color of his skin? Vechirko was released without being charged not because of his race but because he did nothing wrong. He should not have even been arrested in the first place.
- Ninth, there is no such thing as white privilege. Not being charged with a crime when you did not commit any crimes is a right, not a privilege.
- Tenth, how can you demand that the justice system treat everyone with equality when your petition is asking for the exact opposite of that?
Other than that, this petition makes perfect sense.
The bottom line is that a highway is for driving. A tanker truck has every right to be on the highway. Protesters do not have a right to be on the highway. Vechirko did nothing wrong. The protesters did something wrong by being on the highway. They – particularly the ones who decided to drag him out of his truck and beat him – are the ones who should be charged with crimes, not him.