Local Iowa law enforcement officials disputed Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s claims on social media on Thursday that two left-wing protesters intentionally rammed their car into his campaign vehicle during an event, saying that there was “no evidence” that the people were involved in the protest or that they intentionally crashed their car into his campaign’s parked vehicle.
Ramaswamy said on X that he “had a civil exchange” with protesters and that “two of them then got into their car & rammed it into ours” while some of his surrogates said that the car “drove off.” Ramaswamy suggested that the incident was an example of “violence.”
The Grinnell Police Department pushed back on nearly all the claims from Ramaswamy and his supporters, according to a statement shared by Brianne Pfannenstiel, the Chief Politics Reporter for the Des Moines Register.
Police say that they arrived at Saints Rest Coffee House at 1:02 p.m. after getting a call about a “property damage accident.”
“Upon arrival GPD contacted a Celia Meagher, 22 y.0., of Grinnell, who stated she had just eaten lunch at Jay’s Deli, located in the back of Saints Rest Coffee House, got into her 2007 Honda Civic, blue in color, bearing MN plates, and began backing out of her parking spot, to proceed northbound on Broad Street,” police said. “While backing up she accidentally made contact with a 2023 Ford Expedition, black in color, bearing FL plate YRP043, her Honda’s rear passenger side bumper impacted the driver side rear bumper of the Ford. The Ford was parked on the opposite side of the street, unoccupied at the time of the accident.”
Police said that the impact caused “minor damage to both vehicles” and that Meagher was released from the scene with a traffic summons for unsafe backing. The vehicle that Ramaswamy’s campaign was using was a rental.
“The purpose of this media release is to clarify information circulating on social media concerning the details of this accident,” police said. “It was reported on social media that two protestors intentionally rammed into the Ramaswamy’s vehicle and fled the scene. Our investigation has revealed no evidence to substantiate that information. Meagher stated she was not in the area to protest, she did not know who the vehicle she struck belonged to, she did not intentionally back into the vehicle, and she did not flee the scene of the accident.”
The police department said that if anyone had additional information about the case, they should contact the department.
Ramaswamy campaign spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin stood by her initial claims of what happened, saying that she was “very confident, as a witness.”
A video that the campaign promoted on social media showed the car honking one time, throwing a middle finger out of the window, and then reversing.
“McLaughlin said the campaign did not have video of the collision itself, and Ramaswamy said he did not see the accident take place,” the Des Moines Register reported.
Ramaswamy camp stands by their version of the story after being asked to respond to police’s narrative. They share video of car honking & flipping off Ramaswamy. Campaign doesn’t have footage of collision itself. Spox: “I’m very confident, as a witness” that it was protesters. https://t.co/Njj2LGTM42 pic.twitter.com/YMwhZi9n0H
— Galen Bacharier (@galenbacharier) October 6, 2023