Bill would increase penalties for protesters who block roadways in Mississippi

Lawmakers in Mississippi are pushing forward legislation that would significantly increase the punishment for people who block public roadways.

Republican Senator Chad McMahan recently proposed “The Freedom of Roadway Act” (also known as SB 2283) in the Mississippi Legislature’s 2021 regular session. The bill seeks to “criminalize the malicious obstruction of a public street, highway, or road during an unpermitted protest.”

The bill would require protesters who block roadways without a permit to be fined a minimum of $500 and 25 days in jail with a possible fine of up to $1500 and/or up to a year in jail.

McMahan said that he created the legislation after he was approached by the Tupelo police chief, who was concerned about the highway protests taking place in other parts of the country.

Other states, including Missouri and Utah, have also proposed legislation to deal with an uptick in highway protests, but these states seek to protect drivers who strike and injure or kill a protester from liability rather than to deal out increased punishment to the protesters.

Highway protests remain a hot button topic in the truck industry following a year of civil unrest during which several truck drivers found themselves accidentally caught up in demonstrations.