Nearly one year after they were left injured and fleeing for their lives, protesters who were plowed over by a motorist last year gathered on Wednesday, charging they are still awaiting justice.
Many of the demonstrators who strode through the streets in protest of ICE on Dec. 11, 2020, say they can still hear the screams as 52-year-old Kathleen Casillo drove her black BMW Sedan into their march. Casillo, a Queens native, was caught on video sending anti-ICE marchers hurtling through the air when she plowed her vehicle into the procession, leaving at least nine wounded.
Originally, she was given a desk ticket for reckless endangerment, later was charged with reckless assault in the third degree. Casillo was due to make her first court appearance on Dec. 1 at 100 Center Street and the victims of her heavy- footed road rage looked to meet her face-to-face in the courtroom.
Assembling outside the courthouse at 8am on the brisk morning, about 100 protesters stood beside the steps of Manhattan Criminal Court and erected a table adorned with a television. Clutching large photographs of the devastation left on the road that day and signs denouncing Casillo for her actions, the group rewatched footage of the carnage.
“Last year on Dec. 11, Kathleen Casillo drove her car at top speed through a crowd of human beings. I was one of those human beings—I never saw her coming. She hit me flush from behind and set my body flying and flipping through the air and she kept driving,” Roque Rodriguez said surrounded by family members.
“It’s white supremacy that allowed Kathleen to believe she had the right to end the lives of anyone that got in her way, especially BLM protesters,” Rodriguez added.
For several minutes survivor after survivor of the vehicular incident shared their personal accounts from a moment that many of them say changed their lives.
“It has been a very long year. Kathleen Castillo’s car left me with five bulging discs in my back and a traumatic brain injury. It’s one thing to face physical recovery. It’s another to try to process what happened mentally and emotionally,” Tabitha Howell said.
Reliving the event proved too much for some, as they began to weep. Casillo wasn’t the only person involved in the case who drew the group’s ire, however. Speakers also verbally berated Assistant District Attorney Andrew Mercer for, what protesters feel, was a lenient charge.
“Andrew Mercer neglected to follow up with seven of the nine people who were directly hit and impacted by this crime. You’ve never spoken to them. He did no due diligence, and instead assumed that Kathleen did not have bad intentions and that no one else was seriously harmed,” Rodriguez claimed.
In response to this criticism, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office told amNewYork Metro in a statement: “Our office has attempted to speak with every victim in this case.”
The group promised to wait for Casillo to arrive and sit in the court while she is seen by a judge and said they would be there as many times as they would have to be.
“Today is Kathleen Casillo’s first in person court date, but it will not be her last and we will be here no matter how earlier no matter how cold, even in the snow,” Jae Ortiz said.