Commentary: Red State Moves To Put the Brakes on Protesters Who Block Traffic
If your idea of peaceful protest involves blocking traffic — particularly blocking emergency vehicles — you could be in for some serious criminal charges thanks to new legislation now awaiting a signature from the governor of Texas.
According to Fox News, lawmakers in the Lone Star State have passed a bill that would increase penalties for standard-issue traffic-blocking. Meanwhile, if you obstruct an emergency vehicle, you could be in for a felony.
The Texas Tribune reported the charge would also carry mandatory jail time.
The measure passed Texas’ House of Representatives by a 90-55 vote several weeks ago, according to the Tribune; it passed the Senate 25-5 on Saturday.
GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, up for re-election next year, said he would sign it when it made it to his desk.
“Legislation cracking down on protestors for blocking roads PASSES in the Senate,” Abbott tweeted Saturday.
“Peaceful protest doesn’t include blocking roadways & preventing emergency vehicle access. That chaos won’t be tolerated in Texas.”
Legislation cracking down on protestors for blocking roads PASSES in the Senate.
Peaceful protest doesn’t include blocking roadways & preventing emergency vehicle access. That chaos won’t be tolerated in Texas.
Thanks to @StephanieKlick & @DonnaCampbellTX.
I will sign soon.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 22, 2021
You don’t get any points for guessing the reaction to this. Take the left-leaning Texas Tribune, whose report on the bill’s passage focused — of course — on those “mostly peaceful” protests last year after the death of George Floyd.
Second paragraph of the Tribune story: “The bill is in response to last year’s nationwide protests against police brutality, which were sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Massive protests erupted in major cities across the country, including in Texas, where demonstrators were arrested for allegedly damaging property or blocking roadways.”
Fourth paragraph: “Floyd’s murder, coupled with last year’s protests against police brutality, sparked waves of legislative attempts to reform policing in America, but the events also sparked GOP-led legislation that aims to crack down on protesters who demonstrate on highways in several states. In Iowa and Oklahoma, Republican lawmakers passed bills that would grant immunity to drivers who strike and injure protesters on public streets.”
I’m glad we’ve all come to the unquestioned conclusion on the left that blocked roadways were an acceptable and efficacious form of protest in the wake of Floyd’s death — and that felony charges for blocking emergency vehicles are somehow problematic.
Mind you, the Texas Tribune doesn’t come out and say this directly — this is supposed to be a straight news story, after all — but the vast majority of the story is cluttered with context about last summer’s protests even a second-grader would know, along with the implicit assumption that phalanxes of protesters blocking traffic and violently clashing with motorists is just a sign that the times, they are a’ changin’.
And then, of course, there were those who tried to link this back to the civil rights protests of the 1960s:
Would you have arrested MLK for protesting in the street? pic.twitter.com/np1ZfzE74x
— Libertarian Party of Texas (@LPTexas) May 22, 2021
Right. Here are some things I don’t remember King and his acolytes — specifically dedicated to nonviolent protest — engaging in:
Black Lives Matter mob surrounded a vehicle during a protest in Denver. The driver panicked and drove through them. No one was seriously injured, but a bike one of the protesters was using to block him slightly damaged. pic.twitter.com/qyDxkDCQv2
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 24, 2020
Protestors in #Chicago surround police car, chanting #BLACK_LIVES_MATTER #chicagoprotest #protests #riots2020 #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/BY9P1x1ako
— Map the People (@MaptheP) May 30, 2020
#BLM / #ANTIFA Protesters Shoot At A Car In Utah
If your in the areas where protests are taking place be very careful & wary of all involved!!!
Driving in Hostile Environments: https://t.co/J87xNjimXg
Personal Security in Crowds: https://t.co/x6aB91OnQa
Orlando W.#protests pic.twitter.com/CVYYnp2y64
— Orlando Andy Wilson (@artfulgypzy) July 1, 2020
To the protesters blocking the entrance & exit of the HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM yelling “We hope they die” referring to 2 LA Sheriff’s ambushed today in #Compton: DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL. People’s lives are at stake when ambulances can’t get through.
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) September 13, 2020
In one of those cases, a “protester” shot at the car as it tried to move through the intersection. In another, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said protesters were blocking the entrance to a hospital emergency room as medics tried to get police officers who had been shot in for treatment. Just like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have told them to do, I’m assuming.
No one’s right to protest has been infringed upon in any meaningful way by taking away forms of mob activity that’s dangerous for both motorists, protesters and emergency personnel.
Not only should Abbott sign this bill, we need more governors across America to follow his lead.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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