Black Unity activist struck by driver during Children’s March

By Rob Zako
July 4, 2020
Isiah Wagoner
Isiah Wagoner speaks to fellow protesters at the Federal Courthouse during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Eugene, Ore. Wednesday, June 3, 2020 (Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard file)
  • Multiple eye-witnesses report that Isiah Wagoner, 29, a leader of the activist group Black Unity, was intentionally struck by Travis Paul Waleri, 34, driving a white Subaru during a Children’s March on Sunday, June 28, 2020.
  • Wagoner was taken to PeaceHealth Riverbend and later sent home to recover from injuries he sustained. Waleri was later detained by police as part of an investigation.
  • Black Unity held a march on Friday, July 3, 2020, to demand justice for member Wagoner. Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis denounced acts of violence.
  • BEST is looking into an increase in the “weaponization of vehicles.”

Crash

A protester was injured on the evening of Sunday, June 28, 2020, when he was struck by a car during a march in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood.

Police responded to reports of a vehicle-pedestrian crash at North Adams and Clark streets at about 6:20 p.m. during a protest march, according to a news release from the Eugene Police Department.

The injured protester was 29-year-old Isiah Wagoner, an organizer with the group Black Unity, who was helping to lead a children’s march and block traffic for protesters to get through a roundabout intersection safely when he was struck by the car. There are conflicting accounts by witnesses of what occurred. The driver left the scene after the collision.

Wagoner sustained non-life-threatening injuries, police said, and was taken by medics to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield for evaluation.

Eugene police officers detained the involved 34-year-old male driver after a group of people located the vehicle near the 200 block of North Adams and called police. (Source: Register-Guard)

By Friday, July 3, 2020, Wagoner was recuperating at home, with bed rest and painkillers. (Source: KLCC)

Investigation

As of Thursday, July 2, 2020, a Eugene Police investigation was almost complete.

EPD Chief Chris Skinner said they were able to interview Isiah Wagoner Wednesday.

“While we have eyewitness accounts of Isiah being struck by the car, we do have some conflicting information that we had to kind of chase down and try to corroborate.” Skinner said.  “So anytime we have that or a complex investigation, we don’t rush to an arrest, a probable cause arrest.

Skinner said once an arrest is made, the clock starts for the District Attorney’s office. If there’s insufficient evidence, that can risk dismissal. He said police will present the entire case book to the District Attorney in the coming days. (Source: KLCC)

Reactions

On Friday, July 3, 2020, Black Unity held a march to demand justice for member Isiah Wagoner.

KLCC’s Nathan Bouquet reported that about 200 people marched from Westmoreland park around South Eugene to support Wagoner. 

“I’m standing close to the intersection of 25th and Friendly Street, where Black Unity members have halted the march and blocked surrounding traffic,” Bouquet said. “They’re currently sharing words about Isiah’s actions last weekend and the Black Lives Matter movement, while protesters sit in the road to listen.”

Though the march attracted both positive and negative attention from surrounding neighborhoods, organizers maintained orderly conduct within the group using megaphones to begin chants and call out directions. (Source: KLCC)

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said, “In a climate in which distrust of the police and of government in general is deep and broad, this incident reinforces the worst fears, repeated traumas and anger of many in our community.  … I want to reiterate that our community does not and will not tolerate violent acts of hate or bias and we are committed to protecting people’s rights to have their voices heard as we work together to address racial injustice.” (Source: City of Eugene)

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