A new bill proposed by the Tennessee legislature would make obstructing a highway a felony and grant immunity for drivers who unintentionally hit or kill someone who blocks it.
Republican Tennessee State Representative, Ron M. Grant, sponsored the bill and said it would “promote law and order” amidst the George Floyd and BLM riots that occurred over the summer.
An activist told Fox 13 Memphis he feared it would target BLM.
Activist LJ Abraham said, “We are really just out here trying to tell the world that black lives matter.”
Abraham continued, “I’m concerned about it because I’ve been in that situation where we were almost struck by a vehicle during a protest, so giving them the ability to receive a lesser charge than we would receive as protesters is really offensive.”
The Policy Director of the ACLU of Tennessee chapter, Brandon Tucker, said he felt the bill if passed, is “dangerously anti-protest” and “targets peaceful assembly.”
He also said, “This vague and troubling suppression of free speech can easily be abused, leading to the criminalization of protesters’ words and beliefs.”
According to the bill, if a person is convicted, they would receive a Class E felony, up to six years in prison, and a $3,000 fine.