Objection! Protesters rally in Manhattan after hit-and-run diver leaves justice system unscathed

Protesters rally outside of New York Criminal Court calling out the District Attorney’s office for mishandling a hit-and-run case.
Photo by Dean Moses

Protesters objected to the District Attorney’s office over the handling of the Dec. 11 hit-and-run of anti-ICE marchers.     

Over a dozen individuals gathered outside of New York Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street Monday afternoon. Amidst the tumbling snowfall, a wall of human bodies was created, each one displaying an image depicting the moments after Kathleen Casillo rammed through marchers with her black BMW Sedan, injuring six people. Almost three months later many of those who were struck by the 52-year-old’s vehicle say they are still awaiting justice.   

The photographs at the rally showcased everything from protesters writhing on the ground in pain to a close-up of Casillo herself. It is through this wide array of images the group hopes to present their case. They argue that they were treated as the aggressors despite releasing video footage, personal testimony, and now photographic evidence that demonstrates the case was mishandled.

“ADA Andrew Mercer and his supervisors do not value my life. The NYPD does not value my life. This should bother you if you look like me, if you think like me, if you support me, or if you are poor like me. ADA Andrew Mercer and his direct supervisors have shown throughout this whole process that their primary concern is the care and comfort of Kathleen Casillo,” said Roque Rodriguez, still propping himself up on crutches.

Roque Rodriguez says said that he wants the truth to be known. Photo by Dean Moses

While many of the protesters say they are still struggling with physical and emotional angst stemming from the traumatic instant a car broke through their ranks and sent bodies flying, they say Casillo was given an easy ride by police and the District Attorney’s office.

Charged with reckless endangerment, Casillo was given a desk appearance ticket following the collision between human bodies and the car’s hood. Still, protesters say they are not advocating for the driver to be imprisoned, only for her license to be revoked and for the truth to be acknowledged.

“I am not an advocate for prison time. Our prison system is cruel and does not serve to improve or reform our society in any disguisable way. I am, however, an advocate for accountability and truth—this woman hit me with her car from behind on purpose!” Rodriguez cried into the snow.

According to those at the rally, Casillo was given such a light charge since members of the DA’s office say it cannot be known for certain if the driver’s intentions were to harm people, something protestors at the rally find to be ridiculous, especially after releasing videos of the incident.

The previously released footage appears to show the Queens resident’s BMW Sedan hitting a single protester, lifting the man off his feet before the vehicle stops for a number of seconds. After the brief delay—which drew the ire of several other marchers—the Sedan then sped forward, sending those in the roadway hurtling into the air. With all this backing their claims, those there that day say the truth is self-evident.

Roque Rodriguez rested on his crutches surrounded by imagens from Dec. 11th. Photo by Dean Moses

“She sat in the BMW beside her daughter, she saw people protesting with signs and horns, she saw people with their back to her. Now let’s examine the options she had: Ms. Casillo could have waited for us to pass by and then gone on with her Friday afternoon. Ms. Casillo could have driven away, Ms. Casillo could have watched our protest go without saying a word. Ms. Casillo could have called us stupid losers under her breath. Ms. Casillo could have turned to her daughter in the passenger seat and said look at those disgusting people. She could have rolled down the window and screamed ‘All lives matter.’ She could have laid down on her horn so our message could not be heard. Kathleen Casillo plowed through an intersection of fathers and sisters and lovers and friends, all behind the safety of her white skin and two tons of metal,” Sofia Vickerman, a protester at the December 11th march said.  

amNewYork Metro has reached out to the DA’s office for comment and is awaiting a response.  

Protesters held up large photographs from the event of Dec. 11th.Photo by Dean Moses