Skip to Content
Streetsblog California home
Streetsblog California home
Log In
Streetsblog USA

North Dakota May Make It Legal to Run Over Protestors

7:31 AM PST on January 19, 2017

When a driver ran into a crowd of protestors in Minneapolis, injuring a 16-year-old girl, he was charged only with minor traffic offenses. Photo: KTSP

North Dakota state rep Keith Kempenich has had enough of people exercising their right to assembly and free expression.

North Dakota State Rep. Keith Kempenich. Photo: ND.com
North Dakota state rep Keith Kempenich. Photo: ND.com
false

In response to the protests at Standing Rock, Kempenich has introduced legislation [PDF] to shield drivers from penalty who unintentionally strike a pedestrian "obstructing vehicular traffic."

The bill asserts that pedestrians are not allowed to use the roadbed unless there are no sidewalks, and even in that case, they have to stick to the shoulder. It appears to make no accommodation for people who actually have to cross a street.

The bill has been making the rounds, compelling Kempenich to defend himself. He says it wouldn't apply to a driver who deliberately mows someone down, nor would it protect distracted drivers.

"If you stay off the roadway, this would never be an issue," Kempenich told the Star Tribune.

But it's hard to explain Kempenich's bill except as an attempt to encourage aggression toward protestors and bully people out of the street. After all, drivers already get away with the type of behavior Kempenich wants to shield from accountability.

A man who intentionally ran into a crowd during Ferguson protests in Minneapolis, running over the leg of a 16-year-old girl and then fleeing the scene, was charged only with minor traffic offenses.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog California

CalBike: Tell the Legislature Hands Off Active Transportation Funding

Calbike has an action alert that allows its members to write directly to legislators with their feelings on whether or not the ATP funding should be restored before the legislature votes on the budget in June.

February 22, 2024

State DOTs Spend Even More Money on Highway Expansions Than We Thought

Advocates knew states would go on a highway widening binge when the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed — but they didn't know it would be quite this bad.

February 22, 2024
See all posts