Motorcyclist charged with hate crime for hitting protesters
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois man was charged with a hate crime and other felonies on Tuesday for allegedly riding his motorcycle into a weekend protest rally in Bloomington and striking two people.
Marshall R. Blanchard, 21, of Bloomington was being held in the McLean County Jail in lieu of $40,000 bond. He is also charged with aggravated battery and aggravated assault and misdemeanor battery.
When the incident occurred, demonstrators were protesting the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
After a rally at the Law and Justice Center on Sunday, demonstrators were marching through downtown Bloomington when Blanchard allegedly drove his motorcycle into the crowd and sped off.
“Several witnesses described the defendant as driving at a high rate of speed and angling his motorcycle toward protesters in an attempt to strike the protesters with the motorcycle,” First Assistant State’s Attorney Brad Rigdon said during a court hearing Tuesday.
A woman was hospitalized with abdominal wounds and a man was treated for an arm injury.
Rigdon said Bloomington police, with the aid of statements and images provided by eyewitnesses, were able to track the alleged offender to his home, where he was arrested.
McLean County Circuit Judge Scott Kording found probable cause to try Blanchard on the charges and set a preliminary hearing for June 26. It wasn’t immediately known if Blanchard has obtained legal representation.