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Car drives into immigration protesters outside Rep. Ed Royce's office

A vehicle drove into a group of protesters outside of GOP Rep. Ed Royce’s office in Brea on Thursday afternoon, but no injuries have been reported to police so far.

The alleged driver, 56-year-old Daniel Wenzek of Brea, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He was booked and released pending further investigation, according to Lt. Kelly Carpenter of the Brea Police Department.

Organizers say several hundred people were protesting outside Royce’s office. Many of them arrived on buses after a morning news conference with elected officials and labor leaders in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park. They were trying to deliver letters to Royce (R-Fullerton) about what losing temporary protected immigration status would mean to them, said Andrew Cohen, a communications specialist with the organization Unite Here.

Royce was on his way to the airport to fly back to California from Washington and was not in the office when the incident occurred, said spokesman Steven Smith.

Organizers said protesters began marching in a circle around the intersection of Birch Street and Brea Boulevard near the congressman’s office after they were turned away from Royce’s office around noon. The congressman’s office disputed that account, saying that the district staff offered to meet with protesters as long as they broke into smaller groups but that the protesters declined.

About 12:30 p.m., police were in the process of trying to clear the intersection. Cohen said that’s when a car began to drive through the group of protesters at a low speed.

“There were definitely a lot of drivers who were laying on their horns and getting pretty irate,” Cohen said.

Video of the incident shows a small group of protesters in front of a blue sedan stopped at the intersection. When the car begins to move slowly forward, some protesters placed their hands on the car and tried to stop it. At that point, the car began to move faster and at least one protester jumped on the car’s hood. With protesters screaming, police stopped the car a short distance later in the middle of the intersection as one officer hit the hood with a nightstick. No one else was in the vehicle.

In a statement, Smith said Royce “condemns in the strongest possible terms any and all violence” and that his staff members “remain committed to meeting with all constituents who wish to voice their opinions in a civil and respectful manner.”

Carpenter said no victims have come forward so far. Police are asking any witnesses or people who were injured to contact them. David Huerta, president of the SEIU United Service Workers West labor union, said “several” of his members went to the hospital but had no other information about potential injuries. His group plans to hold a news conference outside Royce’s office tomorrow to continue the push for immigration reform, he said.

Claudia Aguilera, 46, of Los Angeles jumped onto the hood of the car as other protesters pushed against the grille and hit the passenger door with sticks. She was on the hood for about seven seconds as the car accelerated before she said she slid off on the passenger side.

“My only thought is that I just want him to stop,” Aguilera said by phone. “I’m like, if I just jump on the car, he’s going to stop. He did stop, thank God, because if he didn’t stop, he would [have] run over a lot of people that [were] crossing the street. It was so quick.”

christine.maiduc@latimes.com

sarah.wire@latimes.com


UPDATES:

6:15 p.m.: This article was updated with additional comments and information from Royce’s office.

5:50 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details from David Huerta and Royce’s office.

This article was originally published at 5:05 p.m.

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