Since last year’s election, there have been widespread protests against Trump’s presidency. That’s embarrassing not just for Trump, but for Republicans in general. In response, several state legislatures have been taking the bold move of trying to legalize motorists killing protesters with their vehicles. Yes, just like the way that Heather Heyer died.
Granted, this is just one of many ways Republicans are trying to stifle protests. At least 18 states have considered legislation to restrict demonstrations, such as trying to increase fines for blocking traffic. Republican legislators are trying to create a narrative that protesters are actually paid provocateurs, financed by shadowy billionaires. As with much of the Republican agenda, evidence to the contrary doesn’t matter. Arizona State Senator John Kavanagh said earlier this year, while supporting a bill to criminalize participating in peaceful protests, “You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder.”
But allowing drivers to run over protesters is by far the most odious of Republican approaches. That hasn’t stopped six states (North Dakota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island) from considering the legislation. North Dakota State Rep. Keith Kempenich said that protesters blocking the road was “an intentional act of intimidation — the definition of terrorism.” He, therefore, justified allowing motorists to drive over protesters as an anti-terrorism measure.
Other right wing sources have gleefully jumped on the bandwagon. Conservative website The Daily Caller published a video in January with the descriptive title, “Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road.” Several other websites, including one run by Fox News, reposted the video. After the attack in Charlottesville, this promotion of violence became too blatant for even those websites, which recently removed their posts.
North Dakota’s bill failed to pass, but several states are still considering similar legislation. Will the sponsors withdraw their bills in the wake of Charlottesville tragedy? Or do state politicians really think that their constituents are so eager to run over liberals with their cars that legalizing vehicular attacks is still good politics? If you thought that the ISIS van attack in Barcelona was a gruesome tragedy, just wait – even worse may be coming to a red state near you.