Local Legislator Wants to Increase Punishments for Protests Gone Awry: This is the Way

It is the nature of politicians to extrapolate the worst of what happens around the country and make it a local issue, regardless of whether or not it has a chance of becoming one. Both Republicans and Democrats do it, and it’s one of the more obnoxious parts of politics; after all, we should all prefer that politicians focus on their jurisdiction, not elsewhere.

Scottsdale/Fountain Hills state Senator John Kavanagh has not been exempt from that. But every once in a while, the concerns are viable and real, and getting out in front of them is a wise move.

Senator Kavanagh is proposing that blocking highways for more than 15 minutes after they’ve been ordered to disperse be considered a felony. It is currently a misdemeanor under state law.

Is this reactionary? Almost certainly. But the political far left has been using this method as part of their standard toolkit of disruption. What started as a method of protest in the wake of the death of George Floyd has turned into a regular method of protest regarding the war in Gaza currently ongoing.

Kavanagh brings up the San Francisco bay bridge being blocked for an astounding four hours by Gaza protesters recently. But that is only one example; Seattle protesters shut down the I-5 interstate, a critical highway for transportation in the area, for a stunning five hours recently. Portland protesters blocked the road to their airport for a full hour, likely causing hundreds if not thousands of people to miss their flight without any compensation. Similar attempts at blocking airports have also happened in the much busier and more critical airports in New York City and Los Angeles.

Non-violent protest is a protection afforded by the Constitution, and an important one at that. It is a key differentiator between a free country and one beset by tyranny. But there must be a differentiation between productive non-violent protest targeted at decision-makers, and that which hurts the innocent. After all, in road closures ambulances are caught in the same problem. Response times can be crippled and people needlessly hurt, all for the sake of getting attention for their cause. And is that attention even positive?

This seems to happen solely in very strongly Democrat-controlled areas, which makes sense. Many on the political left have a degree of sympathy for this particular cause, and as such elected leaders are hesitant to crack down on this, especially with the potential specter of over-policing. However we cannot assume that a lack of political will is purely relegated to Democrat-heavy areas (and besides, we have several municipalities run by liberals).

There must be consequences for antisocial behavior, and if liberal-run cities won’t do it it’s incumbent on more moderate areas to step up and fill that gap. Senator Kavanagh does overstep his boundaries from time to time, but this case looks to be a welcome pre-emption.