2 Missouri lawmakers proposed legislation to protect people who run down protesters with their cars

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2 Missouri lawmakers proposed legislation to protect people who run down protesters with their cars
Demonstrators at a protest against police brutality in St. Louis, Missouri, June 14, 2020.Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images
  • Two Missouri GOP lawmakers this week proposed legislation that would offer protections for individuals who hit people with their cars at protests, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the summer put forth a similar proposal that would've similarly offered protections to individuals who run down people at protests.
  • The tactic has been frequently associated with foreign terrorist organizations but has been seen in several incidents across the US this year.
  • A 52-year-old in New York City was arrested last week after at least seven people were injured when she drove her car into protesters holding a demonstration against Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Two Missouri Republican lawmakers this week proposed legislation in the state to afford protections to people who run people over with their cars at protests.

According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, a bill proposed by state Sen.-elect Rick Brattin would prevent lawsuits against individuals who hit others with their vehicle if the person "was blocking traffic in a public right-of-way while participating in a protest or demonstration" unless the driver's action "constitutes gross negligence."

The proposal also takes other aims at protesters and their goals, including cutting funding for local governments that cut police budgets, imposing a prison term of 5 to 15 years for people who vandalize a public monument, and eliminating benefits for public employees found guilty of unlawful assembly or rioting, according to the report.

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State Rep. Adam Schnelting proposed similar legislation in the Missouri House of Representatives, absolving people who run over protesters of both civil and criminal liability at an "unlawful or riotous assemblage" if "the person reasonably believes he or she or any occupant of the motor vehicle is in danger," the Tribune reported.

The practice of driving into a crowd is often associated with foreign terrorist groups, including ISIS and Al Qaeda, as The New York Times previously reported, though it has become more prominent in the US in recent years, including this summer during nationwide protests against racism following the police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

Between May 27 and July 9, drivers in the US had hit protesters with their cars 66 times, according to research from the University of Chicago's Project on Security and Threats. US police forces also this year have been seen on video driving into protesters, including in New York in May and in September in Wyoming.

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The first notable incident of the practice in the US occurred in 2017 when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Most recently, on Friday, at least seven people were injured during a protest in New York City when a car accelerated into a group of demonstrators protesting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainment's in New York City. A 52-year-old Queens woman was arrested following the incident and charged with reckless endangerment, police said, the Times reported.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year made a similar proposal, absolving a person of liability for killing or injuring someone with their vehicle if they were "fleeing for safety from a mob" as part of several proposed reforms also targeting left-wing protesters and their protest calls.

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