Tennessee just made it legal to injure protesters who are blocking roadways and other rights of way. The bill, introduced Wednesday and which easily passed the senate Friday, renders someone who runs over a protester who is blocking the street free from civil liability, so long as the driver was exercising ‘due care.’
The bill was likely in response to The Memphis Black Lives Matter rally last July, which shut down the I-40 bridge with hundreds of protesters refusing to leave. Traffic could not go across, including the parents of a very sick baby.
Paramedic Bobby Harrell with Crittendon EMS recounts “We received a call there was a child needing medical attention stuck in traffic up on the bridge and due to the protest going on the bridge the family was not able to get through.”
The Sheriff’s department had to escort the ambulance up the wrong way on the interstate to get to the child. A photo shows the parents, handing off their child to paramedics on the bridge. Harrell said after he had the very sick child in the ambulance, the driver then had to go 25 minutes out of the way to get the child to the nearest hospital.
This comes after several other states including Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, and North Dakota announced that they were considering similar measures, including one Washington state lawmaker who introduced legislation that would make what he calls “economic terrorism” a class-C felony. The Tennessee bill doesn’t criminalize the act, but would provide civil immunity to the driver, so long as the driver was not driving recklessly and was exercising due care.