Remember those kids in your local department stores? The ones screeching and wailing around the floor in a fit of rage. Their parents politely pleading for their precious baby to stop, while at the same time warding off onlookers with “it’s my child’s way of expressing healthy emotions”. Then the child responds with a high pitch scream that could send shards of glass across the room.
Well these kids are now all grown up and they are still throwing the same tantrums, only this time they are doing it in the streets in the form of protesting. Protests today have become as common as skinny jeans in a Starbucks.
A common tactic is to block traffic- nothing gets your message out like blocking a soccer mom on her way to $2 wine night at the local Olive Garden. Yet the tactic continues to annoy even the mildest mannered individual. One state, however, has had enough.
A state lawmaker in Tennessee has introduced a bill that would dissolve civil liability from drivers who hit protesters with their vehicle. State Representative Matthew Hill, a Republican from Johnson City, Tennessee, proposed the legislation in response to protesters across the country who put themselves in harm’s way.
Rep. Hill stated, “This is meant to hopefully help people in the car and out of the car be safe, stay safe. If you want to protest, that’s fine, whatever the issue is, but do it safely, do it peaceably, and do it out of our roads.”
The bill is seen by some activists in the state as a way to prevent protests, but Rep. Hill claims that simply is not the case. “This is an attempt at really trying to have some public safety and inject some common sense,” Hill said.
Tennessee has not been immune to the countless number of protests over the past year. Black Lives Matter protesters shut down a major interstate in Memphis just last summer. Protesters shut the roadway down for hours on that day, and similar protests have occurred in other cities across the state as well.
Drivers throughout the United States have become increasingly frustrated and rightfully fearful as such demonstrations have spread into the streets. Videos of protesters assaulting drivers and damaging vehicles are emerging, and crowds have even prevented emergency vehicles from getting patients to the hospital. Drivers view such as actions as unlawful; the seemingly lackluster approach by law enforcement to clear the roadways and protect motorist has led to many drivers hitting the gas instead.
Personal injury lawyer Tony Seaton claims the bill is only aimed at curtailing people from protesting. He claims regardless of negligence or intent a driver would hold some degree of responsibility.
Rep. Hill vows his bill is not aimed at preventing people from protesting. He simply states, “they can still protest, they can still air their grievances, we’re totally in favor of that, but they need to do it as the Constitution calls for it: in a peaceful manner, and not by blocking public roadways.”
The bill will be up for consideration in the next few weeks. Lawmakers in Tennessee may be ready to set a precedent, or at the very least they seek to send a message to the protesters themselves.
Get off our streets!