Metal Against Marchers: An Analysis of Recent Incidents Involving Vehicle Assaults at U.S. Political Protests and Rallies

Metal Against Marchers: An Analysis of Recent Incidents Involving Vehicle Assaults at U.S. Political Protests and Rallies

Abstract: 

The protests against racism and police conduct taking place throughout cities and towns across the United States have been mostly peaceful, but a few of them have led to violent confrontations between protesters, counterprotesters, and police, and in a number of incidents, vehicles were driven into protesters. This MTI Security Perspective examines the spate of reported vehicle assaults and other vehicle-related events that have occurred since the protests began in late May 2020.  It describes the varied circumstances of the events and the apparent motivations of the drivers, and it offers preliminary (and tentative) judgments about where these incidents fall on a spectrum of hostility and premeditation.  Finally, it compares and contrasts the current events with the incidents discussed in the authors' previous study, “Smashing into Crowds”—An Analysis of Vehicle Ramming Attacks."

Authors: 

BRIAN MICHAEL JENKINS 

Brian Michael Jenkins is the director of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s Allied Telesis National Transportation Security Center and, since 1997, has directed the Institute’s continuing research on protecting surface transportation against terrorism and other serious forms of crime.

BRUCE R. BUTTERWORTH 

Bruce R. Butterworth is a Senior Transportation Security Researcher at MTI and former Director of Aviation Security Operations at the Federal Aviation Administration. Bruce has taken a leading role in creating MTI’s unique database of attacks on public surface transportation.

Published: 

October 2020

Keywords: 

Safety and security
Terrorism
Threats
Weapons