Van crashes into Cory Booker campaign event in Miami Gardens

Spectators briefly left venue; candidate carries on with speech

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor, Liane Morejon - Reporter

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - A van crashed into a cafe where Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker was speaking Sunday in Miami Gardens.

The New Jersey senator's speech was interrupted and spectators left the Mo Space by Miami Soul Cafe in the 16100 block of Northwest 27th Avenue after the crash.

Carolyn Frazer, a spokeswoman for the Miami Gardens Police Department, said the crash was unrelated to the Booker event.

After a delay, Booker carried on with the speech. Some spectators left shaken after the crash. Booker, among others, was recently the target of threats by a Tamarac man.

However, Booker seemed unfazed by the crash.

"I've been a former mayor. We've dealt with a lot crises," Booker told Local 10 News reporter Liane Morejon. "The key is to remain calm and see what you can do to help other people out."

Booker was in Miami Gardens to speak about his presidential campaign and advocate for restoring voting rights to people who have been convicted of felonies. In November, Florida voters overwhelming approved changing the law to allow many former felons to voter, but Florida lawmakers have been debating on how to implement the ballot measure. Booker and others claim the Republican-led legislature is trying to undermine the measure and make it harder for more people to vote.

Booker's chief of staff, Matt Klapper, who was a former firefighter-paramedic, ran outside after the crash to see if he could help.

"I was happy to see him go out there," Booker said.

The passenger in the van had minor injuries and was taken to a hospital. The driver was taken into custody, Frazer said. 

No one inside the venue was hurt, Frazer said.

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