Bills in Republican Legislatures Allow Motorists to Run Over Protesters (Video)

Republicans are afraid.

One term of Donald Trump’s naked racism, xenophobia, and general incompetence cost them both houses of Congress and the White House.

They know their policies are unpopular with the American majority and the dog-whistle rhetoric that used to dupe people into voting against their interests isn’t so potent anymore.

They know people overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

That’s why they don’t want people to vote.

They also fear disgruntled Americans exercising their First Amendment-right to peaceably assemble to redress their grievances.

After a year of protests over police murders of unarmed African Americans, Republican state lawmakers are trying to ensure no one enjoys First Amendment-protections again.

34 states have so far introduced more than 80 anti-protest bills that are as brutal as they are un-American.

Last week, Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill penalizing protesters and shielding motorists who plow into them with their cars

In that bill, “aggravated rioting” and blocking traffic are considered felonies.

And in Florida, felons lose their right to vote.

What a convenient way to cheat.

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law senior legal adviser, Nick Robinson, added:

 “For example, in Florida, on this rioting provision, if you’re with 26 or more people or you’re obstructing traffic, it becomes a felony and an aggravated riot, punishable by 15 years in jail. Right? So that’s just chilling. People already are concerned about being able to go out and protest now under this law, because they just don’t want—this is a life-altering charge, if you get this, against you. There’s five years in jail if you deface a monument. So, let’s say you tag a Confederate monument or something like that, again, a super serious charge under the Florida bill.”

Florida is not alone, however.

Oklahoma and Iowa Republican lawmakers have passed similar legislation.

Oklahoma’s HB 1674 states:

“A motor vehicle operator who unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual shall not be criminally or civilly liable for the injury or death, if […] the injury or death of the individual occurred while the motor vehicle operator was fleeing from a riot […] under a reasonable belief that fleeing was necessary to protect the motor vehicle operator from serious injury or death.”

On the surface, one might be excused for assuming the protests gripping the country are destructive.

However, a Washington Post study explained that more than 96% of Black Lives Matter protests protests produced no property damage or police injuries, contrary to rhetoric coming out of right-wing hate media.

If James Fields, the neo-Nazi who spend his car into protesters during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., killed Heather Heyer now, under these new Republican laws, instead of four years ago, perhaps he would not be behind bars today.

These states have opened Pandora’s proverbial box.

It’s what Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, recently called “open season” during a Democracy Now! interview.

Bro explained:

 “It’s a hunting license, is what it basically is. And as I’ve said on other shows, what’s next? Baseball bats? Guns? You know, what kind of weapons of mass destruction are they willing to allow?”

Nick Robinson said:

“We’ve also seen police circulating on social media pictures of drivers hitting protesters, seemingly encouraging drivers to run into protesters or to hit protesters with their car…The ability to use deadly force against protesters…this part of a larger movement by politicians that are introducing these bills, that are trying to paint all protesters as rioters, and particularly all Black Lives Matter protesters as rioters.”

Republicans can’t win unless they cheat, and they know that’s getting harder to do.

For all their talk of “freedom” and “democracy,” those are the very American qualities they disdain most.

We’re witnessing the frantic violent spasms of a cornered frightened minority.

Republicans are afraid.

Image credit: linkyoublog

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Medium.