Protesters blocking traffic drives me insane, partially because the people they are deterring from getting from point A to point B likely have nothing to do with the reason the demonstration is occurring in the first place.

I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t blame someone from doing what they have to do to get to where they have to go, which in some cases includes their livelihood to provide food on the table, but there has to be a better way than what has been introduced by state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro.

A bill from Ketron introduced earlier this month and passed through first consideration in the state Senate would leave demonstrators unable to sue drivers in civil court for any injuries. Ketron said the bill would not make drivers immune from civil liability.

“We believe that citizens have the right to protest,” Ketron said. “There is a procedure for peaceful protests and the purpose of that process is to protect the safety of our citizens. Protestors have no right to be in the middle of the road or our highways for their own safety and the safety of the traveling public.”

This is true. I believe protesting is fine so long as it doesn’t affect traffic and is kept out of the street when blatantly just stopping traffic for the sake of it instead of, say, during a march.

Some legislators, like state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, claim the bill is not in favor people running others over, noting it is a “public safety bill” meant to protect a person’s right to peacefully protest.

“We are not endorsing anyone running over a person with a car, whether it is protesters or anyone else,” Hill said. “If someone intentionally harms a person, they are going to be charged with a crime, period. There is a clear difference, however, between peacefully protesting and lawless rioters in the middle of a public roadway who jeopardize the safety of our families.”

If this bill does not endorse such a heinous action, then why was it introduced in the first place?

Legislators can say all they want, but I worry some out there will take this bill as a green light to do as they please and mow protesters down with their vehicle simply because they are an inconvenience in their day.

Don’t be that person.

Jeremy Nash is a reporter and staff writer for the News-Herald. Contact him at 865-986-6581 or by email at