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Occupy DC: Witnesses differ over fault when car hit 3 protesters

Photo: Joshua Yospyn/WJLA
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Three Occupy DC protesters are recovering after being hit by a car near the convention center in Northwest Friday night.

Witnesses tell conflicting stories about who was at fault when a Clinton man drove his car into the pedestrians.

Adding insult to the injuries, the protesters were given citations, fueling their outrage. (See the police report below.)

A large group of protesters were at the convention center to protest the event held inside by Americans for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.

Speaking to the group inside, leading GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain had proclaimed that he was proud to be "the Koch brothers' brother from another mother."

According to the police report and many witnesses, several Occupy DC protesters were standing in and around the intersection at 7th Street and Mount Vernon Place NW.

They were trying to block cars from driving past the convention center.

ABC7's Mike Conneen talked with the protesters who were hit by the car, a family from Dayton, Ohio, including a 36-year-old pregnant woman and a 13-year old boy.

"Some cars would turn around and some would wait till we got out of the way," said Heidi Sippel. "And this one didn't do either. He just gunned it for us."

"The one percent think they can get away with whatever they want to and lots of people are sick and tired of that," said Landon Sippel, 13.

He and his family joined several other protesters in a human chain across 7th Street Northwest, intentionally blocking traffic.

"The police had all of the corners blocked off, it felt safe," Brandy Sippel said.

When a car crashed into them there were video cameras rolling. And today, there were even more accounts of what actually happened.

"In a motor vehicle if you accelerate and strike pedestrians intentionally, that is assault," said Luke, a witness.

The driver of the car told police he saw a clearing between the protesters and tried to pass through it.

But the Sippels claim he drove directly at them.

"When he hit my son he went across the hood of the car and then I hit my head," Heidi Sippel said. "I blacked out for a minute and then came to."

She says she suffered a concussion. All three of them went to the hospital.

The driver was not arrested or charged.

Instead, each of the Sippels -- including 13-year-old Landon -- were cited for walking against a don't-walk sign and obstructing traffic.

"It does bother me, but i don't regret doing it," Heidi Sippel said. "I mean it's obvious I don't think we were the ones in error there, so we won't be paying those tickets, we'll be having our day in court."

D.C. police say the 38-year-old driver from Clinton, Maryland was not cited because he had a green light. And witnesses told them that the Sippels either ran toward or jumped in front of his car.

Contacted by ABC7's Conneen, the driver of the car declined to comment, saying he was at work, and could not talk.

MPD Report: Occupy DC Pedestrians Hit

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