Republican lawmakers in North Dakota are taking aim at protesters with a handful of bills that would make another pipeline protest far more dangerous.
The oil-friendly legislature argues that its constituents are frustrated over the protests, which led federal authorities to halt construction of the $3.8-billion Dakota Access Pipeline as thousands of protesters braved cold weather and violence for months.
A bill that state GOP Rep. Keith Kempenich introduced would exempt drivers from liability if they accidentally hit a pedestrian, according to the Bismarck Tribune. House Bill 1203 was written up in direct response to groups of protesters blocking roadways, Kempenich told the paper. He claims protesters were seen jumping out in front of vehicles.
“It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” Kempenich said. “They’re intentionally putting themselves in danger.”
He admits that the law might be used in cases that don’t involve protests. But a few casualties of justice are apparently worth it; his bill would mitigate instances when panicked drivers might have accidentally “punched the accelerator rather than the brakes” as protesters blocked the roads.
That should go well. White people being able to kill Native Americans without the threat of punishment. Well, that’s a new event in American history!