UPDATED 1:30 PM PT – Sunday, March 7, 2021
The Tennessee legislature is seeking to strengthen laws protecting civilians from rioters. On Friday, Republican lawmakers in the city proposed a bill to make it a felony for protestors to block highways.
The bill also would grant immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill someone blocking roadways. Additionally, the measure includes a section that would make it illegal to intentionally intimidate or harass someone who is not participating in a riot.
This proposal came after heightened protests and riots, which stemmed from racial unrest throughout the nation. Since that time, Tennessee has been flooded with violent demonstrations that often resulted in injuries and property damage.
The governor of Tennessee previously took similar strides to punish rioters who participated in violent acts.
“We can’t tolerate lawlessness and destruction of property in this state,” Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) stated. “And I think the intent of the law around the use of state property is to make that evident.”
The new proposed bill would also include parameters similar to the ‘Stand Your Ground Law,’ which states that people may use deadly force when they reasonably believe it to be necessary to defend themselves against a deadly threat.
A member of the Tennessee Firearms Association believes innocent civilians and store owners who have been harassed by violent protesters deserve protection under the law.
“Well, the question is does the criminal just laugh at them and keep stealing the stuff?” questioned John Harriss of the TFA. “And then at some point, I think juries are gonna say ‘it was your stuff, it was your property, it was your building. You should have the right to defend it.’ They’re not gonna care what the law says.”
The proposed legislation is set to be heard in State Senate and House committees.