I note with a certain schadenfreude that North Dakota may soon have a new traffic law.
Republican lawmakers in the state introduced a bill last week in the legislature that would not hold motorists liable for negligently running over someone obstructing a roadway. The bill was introduced in response to a year of protests over a proposed pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
. . .
Lawmakers told the Bismarck Tribune that the bill is needed after protesters blocked traffic during oil pipeline protests.
"It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” Rep. Keith Kempenich told the paper. "(Roads) are not there for the protesters. They’re intentionally putting themselves in danger."
There's more at the link.
I'm not suggesting that anyone would deliberately use such a law to run over protesters and get away with it. Nevertheless, I, like many others, have been infuriated by protesters taking over and blocking public highways in order to draw attention to their cause(s). Not only are they impeding my right of free passage, they have, in some cases, caused harm to people trying to get to hospital in a hurry, or emergency services trying to respond to situations that required their presence. I think such protesters are dangerously deluded as to their importance (or lack thereof) in the greater scheme of things. Certainly, if protesters blocked the safe passage of someone on the road - particularly if the driver was rushing his or her spouse or child to hospital, or something like that - I wouldn't blame the driver for a moment if he or she hit one or more of them. As you may recall, that happened a few months ago in Ferguson, MO, earning the protesters our Doofus Of The Day award.
I've never forgotten the outrage and disgust caused in Nashville, TN a couple of years ago, when Black Lives Matter protesters blocked city center roads and an interstate highway. Instead of removing them, police offered them coffee and hot chocolate! I think that was a ridiculous decision, which only encouraged them to break the law again in future. Many of us living there at the time were very angry at such an insipid, politically correct response by the authorities. (It certainly wouldn't happen in northern Texas, where I now live. I'm quite sure residents would take matters into their own hands, if necessary.)
People have a right to protest. I have no problem with that at all. However, their rights can't be allowed to interfere with or abrogate my rights - and blocking my passage comes under that heading, as far as I'm concerned. I think this proposed North Dakota legislation is no more than a legal recognition of that reality. I hope it's enacted.