Law enforcement was called to Main Street in Westminster Saturday afternoon after a small firework struck members of the Westminster Patriots Resist Rally who were demonstrating, resulting in minor injuries for two of its members.
Lt. Richard Ott of the Westminster Police Department confirmed police were dispatched at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday to Main Street across from the Carroll County Public Library’s Westminster branch.
Ott said police don’t know if what is suspected to have been a bottle rocket was accidentally or deliberately shot at the small crowd of demonstrators and said police are investigating to see if there’s video from local businesses.
Henry Reiff, of Westminster, who organizes the weekly Westminster Patriots Resist Rally, said the group has been demonstrating in downtown Westminster for more than a year. The group isn’t formal, Reiff said.
“We’ve been doing this since I think the second or third week after [President Donald Trump’s] inauguration, and we’ve been concerned about what we perceive as an attack on many of the values that we think are important and essential to our sense of who we are as Americans,” he said.
Generally, they are working to promote ideas of inclusion, universal health care and diversity. Recently, they’ve been concerned about the separation of families at the borders and have been working to encourage people to vote.
“It’s a response to a lot of what is going on that we feel is undermining a lot of our values of human decency and social justice,” Reiff said.
He said the group has never had any real problems of threats.
Usually, people drive by and honk, and give them a thumbs up. But on Saturday afternoon, the group heard a sharp explosion. Soon after, they heard another one, and Reiff said he heard two members had been struck.
“The thing that sort of struck all of us is that a car went by initially and it was a late model red Corvette. … They threw something out the window that sounded like a fire cracker but probably was another bottle rocket,” he said. “It didn’t hit anybody, but it was ... launched in that general direction. And then about 10 minutes later another car came by and did the same thing, but this time they hit two people.”
Marty Hankins, of Hampstead, was one of two women who were struck by the assumed bottle rocket.
“It was pretty scary,” she said.
Usually, Hankins said, she stands with an American flag and a sign. Saturday’s sign said “The whole world is watching,” she said.
“Most of the time the response that we get from people are people [who] beep their horns, they give us a thumbs up, they wave. We get a few middle fingers and we get a few people that call us un-American but other than that, 90 percent of the response is positive,” she said.
Hankins said she heard a whistling, a pop and then felt a sting, and realized she was bleeding from her arm.