North Dakota Bill Will Protect Drivers Who ‘Accidentally’ Hit DAPL Protesters

Activism, Ecology and Environment, News

The climate for water protectors in North Dakota protesting the DAPL has gone from bad to worse. If it weren’t already dangerous enough to be in opposition to the pipeline, “Republican lawmakers in North Dakota are taking aim at protesters with a handful of bills that would make another pipeline protest far more dangerous.”
As Andy Campbell for the Huffington Post writes:

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.
What’s interesting is that North Dakota is a state heavy on restrictions to the reproductive rights of women and  is home to many pro life rallies and protests. And some interesting facts about their current laws regarding abortion are: 

  • Abortion would be banned if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.
  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • The parents of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.

While folks are allowed to protest abortion, will it be permissible to mow down and kill these ones too? Most probably not. Are protesters “Intentionally putting themselves in danger” when they block women on their way to to have potentially life saving medical procedures performed, and does that give drivers in the vicinity the same impunity to kill protesters? A state that purports itself as respectful of “all human life” is suddenly not so respectful to that life if they are either Native, or dissenting to their views.
Campbell continues:

Other new bills would be a thorn in the side of protesters and the federal government. One measure would make it a crime for adults to wear masks nearly across the board, while another would allow the state to sue the federal government over millions in extra police costs, according to ABC News.
At this point, it’s unclear whether any of these measures stand a chance, and there’s no committee hearing set for HB1203. It might be crazy to think they’re anything more than posturing, dissenters say.
“Knee-jerk legislation often is poor legislation,” Democratic state Rep. Marvin Nelson told ABC News.

The Dakota Access protests have cost the state more than $22 million and locals are reportedly upset over the rise in crime in the area ― police have arrested nearly 600 people in the region since August.

Do you think these measures have a running chance to be put into place? What do you think the repercussions for other dissenting movements will be should they decide to exercise their right to protest? Tell us your thoughts in our comment section below.
(Article By Tasha Sharifa)