This should make protesting in North Dakota more interesting . . .

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.



  1. After years of working on the highway, the thought of someone deliberately standing in the open lanes of a freeway is beyond my comprehension. With enough speed, a moving vehicle can literally cut someone into pieces.

  2. I think that when we read this law it implies someone deliberately runs down someone standing in the street. That has always been against the law, and I'm sure it still will be. I think this law will end up protecting drivers if protesters do something stupid, like moving into the path of a car, by removing the assumption of guilt on the driver's part.

    When you go down the trail of modern protest movements, it doesn't take long to find out there's a whole, small industry that's paying people to "voice their first amendment rights". It seems to have gone past paying for a "bus ride and box lunch" to advertising on Craig's List.

    Ignore the kerfuffle over that place "Demand Protest" that was a fake site designed to discredit anyone saying protesters are getting paid. This has been documented for years. See the Canada Free Press or just search for news stories about protesters protesting they weren't getting paid or weren't getting paid enough.

  3. protest sites normally bring traffic movement to a crawl, although not always.
    However, most political protests quickly devolve into a threatening posture toward the uninvolved public. If you are blocking my vehicle's movement, and I feel the situation is a threat to my wellbeing, you may shortly be examining my vehicle's underside from a close perspective. You want to wave signs from the curbside, no problem. You stand in the road, you may shortly be lying in the road. Move, or be moved, your choice.

    Unruly crowds should always be considered a potential threat, due to mob mentality.

  4. I was one of those howling at my radio in outrage when I heard that the Metro Trashville PD had accommodated BLM protesters blocking an interstate highway. Their logic, supposedly, was that it would have caused more trouble to arrest them than to allow them to just run out of steam. So, if I want to get away with a crime, I just need to bring enough friends along (not necessarily armed)?
    One of the many reasons I hate that place, & only go there when I'm being paid to. Nothing wrong with Trashville that a low-yield nuclear weapon wouldn't fix. I was born there, but thankfully the folks escaped Davidson county soon afterward. In case you haven't noticed, I hate that–I'll stop, for the sake of decorum.
    I never knew you were in the area, Peter, or I'd have offered to buy (or fix) you & the Lady dinner. Oh well, opportunities missed…Life is full of them.
    Glad y'all are in a good place now, & enjoying it.
    –Tennessee Budd

  5. IIRC, one of the (many) definitions of "kidnapping" is "unlawful confinement of someone against their will."

    Which sounds a lot like "blocking roads for the purpose of protesting with the intent of stopping all traffic."

    I'm sure it will be a while before it happens, but I'd guess one pass through the herd at somewhat reduced speed, especially if performed with a vehicle of fairly large mass, leaving a few dead and/or severely injured in its wake would be enough to provide a useful Educational Experience applicable nationwide. South Dakota motorists may wind up with the law on their side, but those in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Miami, etc. will undoubtedly have a complete understanding of the concept.

  6. Coffee mixed with phenolphthalein, hot chocolate made with Ex-Lax …

    A sudden lack of open public restrooms within miles.

    Sounds perfectly fair to me. 🙂

  7. As a ND citizen I'm heartened by some of the legislation being proposed this session. This bill is a particular favorite, along with the Constitutional Carry bill. I hope they both pass.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *