Iowa law enforcement has found “no evidence” of intentional damage after a critic of Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy crashed into his campaign vehicle during a Thursday event.
Ramaswamy said after he had a “civil exchange” with protestors during a stop at Saints Rest Coffee House in Grinnell, Iowa, two of them “rammed” their car into his campaign vehicle.
“Those two should be held accountable,” Ramaswamy wrote in a X post, “but the rest of the peaceful protestors shouldn’t be tarred by the behavior of two bad actors.”
Had a civil exchange with protestors today, right before two of them then got into their car & rammed it into ours. Those two should be held accountable, but the rest of the peaceful protestors shouldn’t be tarred by the behavior of two bad actors. https://t.co/AePWupLDEj
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) October 5, 2023
The Grinnell Police Department (GPD) released a statement shortly after their investigation that refuted Ramaswamy’s claim.
“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,” GPD wrote. “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.”
GPD noted the impact resulted in “minor damage” to Meagher and Ramaswamy’s vehicle. Meagher was released, though received a traffic summons from GPD for “unsafe backing.”
“The purpose of this media release is to clarify information circulating on social media concerning the details of this accident,” GPD’s statement continued. “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.”
Ramaswamy’s team, however, maintains their initial claim.
A video shared to X by Tricia McLaughlin of Ramaswamy’s team appears to show the incident as Meagher honks, flips off the Republican presidential candidate, and backs out of her parking space.
“The police never contacted us about the statement,” McLaughlin said.
Here are the protestors flicking us off as they laid on the horn and yelled “fu** you,” among other profanities, before reverse-ramming their car into ours. The police never contacted us about the statement. https://t.co/CFsatVY5FO pic.twitter.com/bmBVGDT3Ug
— Tricia McLaughlin (@TriciaOhio) October 6, 2023
“Things clearly escalated,” McLaughlin said, per the Des Moines Register. “[Ramaswamy] is used to dealing with protesters and handled it very calmly. So he was maybe a little more calm about it than the rest of us.”
According to the outlet, McLaughlin said the campaign did not have video of the whole collision, and Ramaswamy did not personally see the accident happen. Former Iowa State Senator Jake Chapman, who has endorsed Ramaswamy, said he witnessed the accident and said the protestor appeared to be with a boyfriend at the time of the collision.
Ramaswamy’s team released the following statement on GPD’s report Thursday evening:
Without contacting anyone on Vivek’s campaign, or speaking to eyewitnesses including the campaign security guard, or reviewing video footage obtained by witnesses, the Grinnell Police Department this evening issued a statement suggesting that the individuals who rammed the SUV were not protestors. This is puzzling since video and photo evidence, along with eyewitness accounts — including the campaign’s security guard — confirm that the individuals were standing side-by-side with protestors before entering their car, used profane gestures and language and shouted from the car, and honked their car horn as they reversed their vehicle into the campaign SUV.