In an act of what can only be described as terrorism, a neo-Nazi driver plowed his car into peaceful protesters, injuring many and killing 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer in Charlottesville last weekend. 20 year old James Alex Fields Jr. is being charged with 2nd degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and failing to stop at the scene of a crash that resulted in a death. Fields will likely spend his entire life in jail — an apt punishment for a horrific crime.
However, had Republican lawmakers around the country had their way, Fields would have been protected under the law and potentially free to walk after murdering someone in broad daylight. According to the Washington Post, “This year, Republican lawmakers in at least six states have proposed bills designed to protect drivers who strike protesters.” The story continues:
They were joined by other states trying to discourage protests — typically relating to Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline or other left-leaning causes — that sometimes obstruct traffic.
The North Dakota bill would shield drivers from civil and criminal liability. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Keith Kempenich, perversely suggested that shielding drivers who kill protesters was a necessary anti-terrorism measure.
Protesters who blocked cars were committing “an intentional act of intimidation — the definition of terrorism,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
The laws were proposed in response to Black Lives Matter protests and other leftwing causes Republican lawmakers feel threatened by. And make no mistake about it — they are attempting to make protest they don’t like illegal, and are promising to legally protect (white) terrorists who unleash their rage against activist. The notion that they would be used to prevent terrorism is beyond repulsive given they actively promote terrorism (just committed by white people):
The bills all include language about how drivers who injure or kill protesters must have done so “unintentionally” or while exercising “due care” if they wish to be spared liability. (Hitting protesters intentionally, as the Charlottesville driver appears to have done, could still make one subject to civil and criminal liability.) Even so, the foreseeable effect of passing laws like these would be to change the calculus for any frustrated driver considering whether to plow through a crowd of protesters.
In a red state with Republican lawmakers, you can be almost certain people like James Alex Fields would be treated in the same way George Zimmerman was after murdering Trayvon Martin in cold blood. The United States has a long history of preventing white men from serving jail time for heinous crimes committed against black people and minorities — and this is no different.
If you’ve ever thought that the Democrats and Republicans were “just as bad”, perhaps it’s time to reconsider.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.