Indianapolis – January 30, 2024. The Safe and Open Streets Act (H.R. 6926) would make it a federal crime to intentionally obstruct, or attempt to obstruct a public road, freeway, or highway. Penalties include fines and a maximum five-year term of imprisonment.
The bill was introduced by Rep. David Rouzer (NC-7) in January and is co-sponsored by Reps. Richard Hudson (NC-9) and Chuck Edwards (NC-11). The bill’s text can be found here. The companion bill (S.3492) was introduced on the Senate side by Sen. Thom Tillis (NC) in December and is co-sponsored by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (TN). The text for the Senate bill can be found here. The bill is currently in the Judiciary Committee in both congressional chambers.
The Safe and Open Streets Act was drafted in response to the rise in blocking traffic as a means of protest. These acts are occurring in major cities across the U.S., including Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York City, as well as in smaller municipalities like Seattle and Raleigh, North Carolina.
These demonstrations disrupt the flow of traffic, placing millions of Americans in positions where they risk missing work, flights, and other important appointments. It impedes the flow of commerce, which in turn affects local economies and the citizens who depend on these products and services.
Blocking traffic is also a public safety hazard that can cause accidents, resulting in serious injuries and added expenses. Motorists can become stranded, which is especially problematic if medical aid -delayed due to traffic buildups- is required. In situations where police are unavailable, frustrated motorists may engage in confrontations that can quickly escalate. Citizens who depend on the expedient response of paramedics, firefighters, and police officers are placed in harm’s way because of traffic delays.
The Safe and Open Streets Act would provide another layer of accountability, in addition to that of state and local law enforcement. It sends a clear message that as a nation of laws, blocking traffic will not be tolerated. Only when offenders are held accountable for their lawlessness, will they be discouraged from engaging in further malfeasance.
While peaceful assembly is a protected form of expression, disrupting other people’s lives and placing them in harm’s way is not. All Americans have the right to drive on tax-payer roads freely and safely, without fear. It’s why we urge Congress to prioritize and pass, the Safe and Open Streets Act.
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