Insanity, thy name is Minnesota…
Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar (DFL-60B) thinks it’s a great idea to allow protesters to gather on light rail tracks and busy highways to block traffic, cause major headaches and tie-ups in order to exercise their First Amendment rights.
“What you are doing is stifling the freedom of speech; what you are doing is instilling fear in people so that they go away. … This country is built on people rebelling, people showing dissent, and people urging their government to do the right thing. That’s why we encourage protests,” Omar said.
On Tuesday, demonstrators, protesting ICE deportations, sat on the Blue Line light rail tracks near the Whipple Federal Building at Fort Snelling. The protesters inconvenienced commuters going to work and to the airport and shut down the light rail for about an hour and a half.
Just a few days ago, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the public safety bill which increased penalties for protesters who demonstrate on highways or at airports from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor. The bill was approved by the Republican controlled House and Senate.
Omar said in a statement, “Not one single County Attorney, Chief of Police or City Official has testified in support of intensifying penalties for people exercising their peaceful right to protest in public. That is because this is a bad idea. Yet Republicans continue their attempt to silence voices and to criminalize the very type of non-violent protests that African Americans used to bring about the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960’s.”
As a side note, Omar obviously doesn’t know her American history, as it was the Republicans who championed Civil Rights legislation back in the 1960’s.
And Republicans are not trying to silence voices and seeking to criminalize protests in Minnesota. They are just saying, “you can protest, but not on a busy highway or on train tracks where people can get killed or hurt.”
Apparently, Rep. Omar feels that protesters have every right to block the way of an emergency vehicle on its way to help an injured or sick person. Apparently, Rep. Omar feels it is perfectly fine for a protester to snarl traffic and inconvenience thousands of people on their way to work, doctor’s appointments or a job interview. Because in Rep. Omar’s world, the ends justify the means.
Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River), the author of the bill which was vetoed by Dayton, said the language is not about silencing voices, rather to deter illegal behavior. “You might think you have a First Amendment right to pull your Buick across three lanes of traffic. … That’s already a criminal act,” he said. “What the language in this bill would do is say that that activity where you block a freeway, when you block access to an airport, when you march in front of a light-rail train and put your arms in PVC pipe and handcuff each other together and then put bike locks around each other’s neck to the fence. That activity is so dangerous that it deserves to have an extra criminal penalty.”
Common sense is apparently not one of Omar’s strong attributes. After all, in her first year at the State House, she was one of two lawmakers who voted against legislation which limited life insurance payments to beneficiaries of suspected terrorists.
So, this summer, when you are stuck on I-494 or I-94 because a bunch of whiny progressives are throwing a tantrum in the middle of the freeway, you know who to thank. And just when you think the world can not get any crazier, Minnesota ups the ante.