A California-based food service company is standing behind a driver whom police arrested in Portland, Maine, on Monday after he drove his tractor-trailer into an area filled with protesters.
Anthony McAfee, 45, of Massachusetts, who drives for Quality Custom Distributors (QCD), a subsidiary of Golden State Foods, headquartered in Irvine, California, was arrested and charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, a Class C felony, by the Portland Police Department. He was taken to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland and released on bail.
“A tractor-trailer truck that completed a delivery on Middle Street drove through the group that was gathered in front of the police station just after 9:30 p.m. [on Monday],” according to a statement provided by Portland Police Lt. Robert Martin. “The driver and his passenger were being confronted by protesters when police were able to intercede. The driver was taken into custody when police and the occupants of the truck started to be attacked.”
Martin told FreightWaves that McAfee was charged because there were a few hundred people on the road and he drove into the crowd, forcing protesters to move out of his way.
“He was driving a tractor-trailer and this would be considered a reckless act with an instrument that could cause serious bodily injury or death,” Martin said.
No protesters were injured in the incident.
McAfee’s company disagrees.
Kate Starr, director of corporate communications of Golden State Foods, confirmed that McAfee works for the company but disputes the charge filed against him.
“Our driver did not drive a vehicle into a crowd and he was lawfully proceeding down a street and quickly and suddenly became engulfed by a large group of people participating in what appeared to be a moving protest,” Starr told FreightWaves. “We stand behind our driver, who was lawfully attempting to perform his work, as he proceeded down a then-unobstructed and unbarricaded street.”
She said McAfee slowed his truck and stopped when he encountered the moving group of protesters.
“Our driver complied with all laws and directions from the authorities responsible for maintaining order and safety in the area,” Starr said.
Some truck drivers have experienced similar issues and are concerned about their safety when traveling in protest areas where looting and vandalism have occurred.
According to police accounts, a few hundred protesters damaged multiple businesses after the majority of peaceful protesters dispersed around 8:30 p.m. on Monday.
Martin said demonstrators threw bottles, rocks, bricks and urine at several officers and swarmed some officers’ vehicles. According to some news accounts, some protesters “threatened them [police officers] with death.”
Police used pepper spray and tear gas on protesters who were throwing projectiles at officers.
Of the 23 arrests, McAfee was the only one charged with a felony.
Protesters have been demonstrating against police brutality for over a week after George Floyd, a black man, died while being restrained by ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin, who has been charged now with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, was videoed by a bystander holding a knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, during which time Floyd repeatedly claimed that he couldn’t breathe.
According to court documents, ex-Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane, 37, Tou Thao, 34, and J. Alexander Kueng, 26, have all been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.