The legislature in the state of Tennessee is hoping to crack down on protesters by proposing a bill to make it a felony to obstruct a highway and grant immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill someone blocking the road.
Per NBC News “jamming a highway, street or sidewalk is a misdemeanor in the state, but the proposed legislation would up the punishment to a mandatory $3,000 fine. The proposal also would allow a driver who “unintentionally causes injury or death” to a person obstructing a roadway to be exempt from prosecution.”
“The proposed bill comes after a year of demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice across the country, and state Rep. Ron M. Gant, the bill’s sponsor, said it would promote “law and order,” the report adds.
The bill would also make it a misdemeanor to throw an object at an individual with the intent to harm them or “intentionally intimidating or harassing.”
Tennessee ACLU policy director Brandon Tucker called the proposal “dangerously anti-protest.”
Tucker said “this legislation would suppress protest by turning obstruction of traffic into a felony offense, robbing individuals of their right to vote if they are convicted of these new felony charges.”
“This vague and troubling suppression of free speech can easily be abused, leading to the criminalization of protesters’ words and beliefs,” he added.