And of course it was started by Big Oil protecting its profits:
State lawmakers in Florida, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas also considered similar measures, which the American Civil Liberties Union nicknamed "hit and kill" bills. The bills were part of a broader package of anti-protest legislation floated in at least 19 states after an upsurge in activism over the last year.
Of the half-dozen states entertaining proposals to shield drivers who hit protesters, North Carolina is the one where it has the best chance of passing. And despite the violence that recently unfolded in Virginia, the bill's sponsors have come to its defense, although its prospects appear to have dimmed.
My reference to Big Oil in the intro has to do with how protesters often use their bodies to block access to pipeline or fracking sites, where contractors have gotten into the habit of just rolling slowly through the crowd, like they're trying to push sheep off the road. But even North Dakota balked at passing such an ill-advised law:
The push to protect drivers from suffering legal consequences for injuring or killing protesters began in North Dakota, site of massive protests against the Keystone Pipeline. In its original form, North Dakota's 2017 bill would have given full liability exemption to a driver who "negligently causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway." One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Mike Brandenburg (R), said the measure would protect citizens against "idiots in masks pounding on [car] windows."
You want to talk about idiots, here's what another "lawmaker" who supported this bill had to say:
“It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” said Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, who admitted the bill is in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in southern Morton County.
He said a response, in the form of House Bill 1203, was needed after groups of protesters blocked or gathered close to roadways and caused problems as motorists tried to drive by.
Kempenich said his mother-in-law, on a few occasions, was traveling south of Mandan and came upon groups of protesters gathered on and near roadways.
He said, on one occasion, about 100 cars were parked along a road in Morton County and his mother-in-law was passing through and slowed down. He said at one point an individual jumped out in front of the vehicle and was waving a sign.
Kempenich said one should consider what might happen if someone panics when coming upon a group of people gathered along a public roadway. He said an unintentional tragedy may occur “if they’d have punched the accelerator rather than the brakes.”
I can't decide whether he's defending his mother-in-law, or making a desperate plea for somebody to take away her driving privileges. Whatever the case, the "My mother-in-law says..." approach to public policy might not be in the public's best interests, is what I'm saying. And the fact that I have to say that makes me want to cry.