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Police arrest red truck driver who drove through Oceanfront protest

Emanuel William Wilder was charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, abusive language, and reckless driving.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach police investigators have made an arrest in connection with an incident last month where a red truck hastily drove through a protest at the Oceanfront.

Investigators said the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney approved the following charges against Emanuel William Wilder, 20, of Chesapeake:

  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Disturbing the Peace
  • Abusive Language
  • Reckless Driving

Wilder was arrested on Thursday by Norfolk Police Department. A spokesperson for the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said his trial date is set for July 28.

The charges stem from an incident that took place during a Virginia Beach protest on May 31, which was one of the first demonstrations in Hampton Roads following George Floyd's death.

It started out as a peaceful march but ended up spiraling out of control after a small group of people started breaking storefront windows and looting businesses lining Atlantic Avenue.

Black Lives Matter 757 posted a video showing a red truck with an American flag that barreled through protesters. No one was hurt.

Police released two videos -- one showing the shirtless driver of that truck arguing with some protesters and then another of the truck darting down Atlantic Avenue.

Deputy Chief Patrick Gallagher said he was there when it happened. 

“I was on Atlantic Avenue when the truck passed me no fewer than 20 feet away," said Gallagher.

Shortly after, the police asked the community to help find the driver.

“We asked the public to include Black Lives Matter 757 to assist us in identifying human beings that can come to court and testify," said Gallagher.

Officers said after getting more information from the public, investigators had enough evidence to charge Wilder. Virginia Beach police officers said this investigation was a joint effort, not just with a community, but with Norfolk police too.

Norfolk officers arrested Wilder at the Econo Lodge on North Military Highway around 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

The day after the arrest, Black Lives Matter 757’s President JaPharii Jones said he wanted to see harsher charges against Wilder.

“It’s not enough, he literally tried to kill people. He could’ve easily killed somebody," said Jones.

No one died, but Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said Wilder caused a commotion.

“It was obviously a volatile situation," Dyer said.

However, the mayor thinks Virginia Beach police are taking the right steps and the judicial system will solve the rest.

“I’ll tell you what, he will go through the process and I’m sure justice will be done," said Dyer.

The Commonwealths Attorney's Office said Wilder’s trial is now set for July 28th, at 8:30.

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