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Motorists who injure protesters blocking traffic might not be liable if Missouri bill passes

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Senate Bill 66 also would OK deadly force against protesters who enter private property

St. Louis protesters block interstate traffic in 2020 (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A Missouri bill introduced by a Republican state senator says motorists won't be liable for injuries to protesters who block traffic providing certain conditions are met and that deadly force is OK against protesters who enter private property.

What are the details?

"To think that your right to protest enables you the right to stop traffic and literally stop people's ability to move about freely in this nation is a gross misunderstanding of our constitutional rights," state Sen. Rick Brattin said during a Missouri Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Monday, KMBC-TV reported.

Here's the wording straight from Senate Bill 66:

  • "LIABILITY FOR MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVERS DURING A PROTEST (Section 537.570) — This act provides that a person operating a motor vehicle shall not be liable for injuries to another person who blocks traffic if such person was exercising due care and was not grossly negligent."
  • "USE OF FORCE DURING PROTESTS (Section 563.031) — This act provides that a person may use deadly force against another person if such force is used against a person who is participating in an unlawful assembly and unlawfully enters or attempts to enter private property that is owned or leased by an individual."

The bill also contains provisions that clamp down on protesters who riot, harass, commit crimes against emergency service providers, and commit vandalism.

Pushback

Of course, not everyone likes the bill — such as Rev. Darryl Gray of the Missionary Baptist State Convention of Missouri, the station said.

"For God sake, authorizing the use of deadly force by non-law enforcement people is creating a recipe for disaster by giving permission to commit bodily harm or even taking a life," Gray said, according to KMBC. "We believe that human life is more sacred than property."

Sharon Jones of the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP testified against the bill, the station said: "We really are crossing that line to a point of suppressing free speech, as opposed to just controlling the time and manner of it."

And the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is urging a no vote against the bill, Newsweek reported: "No driver should be able to hit a protester and get away with it. Period."

St. Louis Protesters Shut Down Interstate During Breonna Taylor Rally youtu.be

(H/T: The Police Tribune)

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