As Donald Trump takes office, pushing a wave of explicitly authoritarian federal policies and practices, Republican leaders at every level are following suit. The latest example is North Dakota lawmaker Keith Kempenich, who has introduced a bill that says a driver "who unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway, is not guilty of an offense."
Kempenich, who spoke to the Bismark Tribune, was completely candid in expressing that he created the legislation in response to protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The $3.8 billion project, which would span 1,100 miles and include Sioux land at the Standing Rock reservation, was halted in December after months of high-profile protests.
This bill is an endorsement of violence against peaceful protesters. It is totally against the spirit of this country, and against everything that is good and just.
We the undersigned call upon you to oppose House Bill 1203. This insane bill is an endorsement of using violence against peaceful protesters. The fact that its author created it in response to the Standing Rock demonstrations reveals its true purpose: to harass, terrorize and even murder people who are merely standing up for their rights. If you have any sense of decency, you will make sure that this bill dies a quick death.