By Mike Cook
John Thompson provides emotional testimony to the House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee Feb. 22 against a pair of bills that would, in part, increase penalties for freeway protesters. Photo by Paul Battaglia
Aiming to ensure legal protests is one goal of a couple bills that others view as stifling free speech and attacking the rights of minorities.
Protesters disrupted light-rail service at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in December 2015. Eight months later protesters blocked Interstate 94 in St. Paul to protest the shooting of Philando Castile, a black man killed by a police officer in Falcon Heights.
In each instance, the protest took place where it is illegal to do so.
“Some people believe incorrectly that they have a right to camp out on a freeway to impede traffic and to bring everything to a halt,” said Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River). “If you believe it’s a First Amendment right to block a freeway, you’re mistaken. That is against the law already.”