Back in February, I covered the protest of the death of Michael Barrera in Woodland. The protest went from a vigil to a march, and dozens of protesters took to the streets, eventually blocking an intersection on Main Street.
A scary moment occurred as the protesters were confronted with a vehicle that grew impatient at the blockage and eventually forced its way through, nearly hitting protesters. The driver is fortunate that our video didn’t reveal his license plate.
A Facebook friend caught my attention when he posted from the Conservative Tribune an article with a video that appears to be out of Brazil. It shows a group of people protesting on the highway, a car backs up when stopped, puts the car in drive and floors it through the protesters, running over several including one that appeared to be severely injured – they didn’t move.
The car appears to continue driving, exiting the video with 30 seconds remaining and not returning.
What is appalling are the comments:
“This is great!”
“Maybe they will not block roadways again! LMAO”
“If more did that stupid people might think twice before standing in the middle of the road”
“Sorry no sympathy for these asshats who block the road and disrupt other people’s lives because they feel it is their right to do so. Block a road and risk your life of being run over. Can’t fix stupid!”
Those are just some of the many comments that justified potentially killing or seriously injuring a protester because they inconvenienced someone by protesting and blocking the road.
When I pointed out that the driver of a vehicle committed crimes – I was called a number of names. But most importantly, the lack of understanding of the law in addition to the lack of empathy is alarming.
One person asked, “Who exactly committed a criminal act and precisely what criminal did he commit?”
From what I saw, you have at the very least some form of assault with a deadly weapon (a car in this case), potentially attempted murder, and hit and run (causing injury).
When I point this out, one of them argues, “If you injured someone while they are in the process of committing a crime, you are not at fault.”
There are of course provisions in the law that allow for self-defense. They of course very from state to state. But using California’s self-defense laws as a guide, we see that their high hurdle is clearly not met here.
First, the defendant has to reasonably (reasonable person standard) believe that they were in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury. Second, they must reasonably believe that the immediate use of force is necessary to defend against that danger.
Finally, the defendant must use no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.
In the video, it is questionable at best as to whether the first two planks of this would apply. The car drove onto the shoulder of the highway to get in front of the line of cars stopped by the protest. The car then drove up to the protesters, backed up to gain momentum and then rammed them.
But this case falls under the auspices of another problem – “A person does not have the right to self-defense if he or she provokes a fight or quarrel with the intent to create an excuse to use force.” In this case, the driver triggered the confrontation, rather than defending himself from a given confrontation.
The other problem he has is that he fails to meet the burden of the third plank by using overwhelmingly disproportionate force.
Bottom line, this is not self-defense and, under the law, a car does not have the right to intentionally hit a person just because they are blocking the road.
Misconceptions about the law are one thing, but the level of hostility toward people who are protesting is quite disturbing. Even when it is clear that someone may be critically injured, if not dead, the commenters were relentless in defending the driver’s actions – as well as in many cases asserting they would do the same themselves.
While I find it interesting that the right has claimed the high ground on first amendment speech issues with Milo and now Ann Coulter, this little episode demonstrates that, in the minds of the right, any speech that creates a mere inconvenience is immediately dismissed with violence fully sanctioned.
—David M. Greenwald reporting