Chaos erupts as SUV drives into Native American parade

GALLUP, NM (AP) — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and his family were among those nearly hit when a large SUV drove through a Native American parade in western New Mexico, causing multiple injuries.

Police took the driver into custody Thursday night, but have not yet released details as to why the vehicle drove through downtown Gallup as thousands of people lined the parade route.

Many captured the chaotic scene on video. People shouted for others to get out of the way, while some led the parade-goers to safety. Children performing traditional dances seem to be among the first to rush them. You can see them running to the side as people scream and families scramble to get out of the way.

Blankets, shoes, banners and umbrellas were scattered across the street and sidewalks as people fled.

Nez said the vehicle was approaching him and a group of tribal officials walking in the parade. He thanked the people for their quick action.

“We ask for your prayers for all participants,” Nez said in a video posted on social media. “We’ve all been shaken up. You’d see this on television, you’d think it would never happen here. I’m sorry to say it happened here in Gallup, New Mexico.”

Community members continued to reach out to each other Friday, encouraging people to pray together.

Among the injured were two Gallup police officers. Police said no one was killed and they had no details on the circumstances of the injured on Friday.

After descending the parade route, the vehicle veered into a side street and stopped in a parking lot before attempting to back out and hitting a police car. Officers then converged on the vehicle, pulled at least two people out and handcuffed them to the sidewalk.

New Mexico State Police said on Twitter that the driver was arrested.

“Several people, including two Gallup PD officers, were injured and are being treated at the scene,” the tweet said.

The parade was a highlight of the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Centennial Celebration, which was established in 1922 to honor Indigenous heritage.

Nez said there were people who traveled to Gallup from the Navajo Nation to attend the parade and the other events planned over the course of the celebration. The Navajo Nation spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

Nez, members of the tribal council, and others expressed anger and disbelief that such a thing could happen.

“It would be a celebration, but today was a difficult time for us,” he said.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state will send additional police officers to Gallup for the remainder of the ceremony.

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