ST. PAUL – In response to recent protests that shut down Interstate 94 and the Minneapolis Airport, State Representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) is co-authoring a bill that would increase penalties against those who break the law while attempting to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.
“No one wants to impact free speech, but when you enter a 65-mile per hour freeway and put your life, along with the lives of drivers and law enforcement, in jeopardy you need to be held accountable,” Miller said.
Miller said a law already exists for intentional public highway obstruction, but it is a misdemeanor and is clearly not deterring lawbreakers from protesting on a freeway. Miller’s bill would strengthen the penalty to a gross misdemeanor, which increases the probability for a stay in jail, higher fine, and longer probation.
Miller is also co-authoring legislation that would authorize local governments to recover public safety costs by suing protesters who have taken part in unlawful assemblies and public nuisances.
“It’s time we start supporting law enforcement who are on the front lines,” Miller said. “Our current laws are doing nothing to prevent radical protesters from participating in an unlawful assembly, so maybe increased penalties will make them think twice.”