Yesterday, Minnesota State Representative Cal Bahr (Republican-East Bethel) announced that he has sent letters to United States Attorney General William Barr, United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Governor Tim Walz, Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and Commissioner Harrington regarding the blocking of interstate highways in Minnesota.
“In the last few months, we have seen two of our primary interstates blocked by protesters, Interstate 35 and Interstate 94,” said Rep. Bahr. “State and local officials have seemingly acquiesced and allowed protesters to illegally commandeer the interstate highway system at their leisure. I have sent letters to state and federal leaders requesting that such criminal activity be stopped, and that federal transportation funds be withheld if these actions are allowed to continue.”
According to the release, Rep. Bahr previously owned a trucking company and has a lifetime of experience dealing with transportation issues and policy. He currently works as a commercial truck driver outside of the legislative session.
“The right to assemble and peacefully protest is a constitutional right that is essential to our nation,” said Rep. Bahr. “Furthermore, peaceful protests are a terrific exercise of individual liberty. However, no individual or group has the right to restrict other citizens from travelling freely. The unlawful blocking of highways by protesters is a severe infringement on the rights of all Minnesotans. Finally, state and local leaders have failed to maintain order when protesters have blocked highways. The May 31st incident on 35W demonstrates that blocking highways is not only illegal, but extremely dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike.”
What the FMCSA says about this whole mess:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently reminded truck drivers that they are able to use an Emergency Exemption in the Hours of Service regulations should they encounter a blocked highway. The exemption, § 395.1(b), allows a driver to complete a trip without violating the hours-of-service regulations if the trip was delayed due to a civil disturbance causing a driver to reasonably fear for their physical safety. Any driver who experiences crime or violence should immediately call the police.
So far, at least two protesters have been killed while protesting on public roadways. In St. Louis, a protester was killed when he was pulled under the wheels of a Fed-Ex truck he was allegedly looting while “peacefully protesting” according to his family. His family blames his death on Fed-Ex and the police.
In Seattle, a 24-year old protester was stuck and killed on Interstate 5 early in the morning after a vehicle traveled the wrong way down an exit ramp to gain access to the blocked road. The protester, identified as Summer Taylor along with another protester were struck. Taylor was killed. The other protester suffered critical injuries. The protest organizers blame the police, random people in the crowd and the State police for the death, even though they organized the 1:30 am dance party in the middle of a highway.