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Assemblywoman Kate Sanchez (Photo: Sanchezforassembly.com)

Bill to Double Fines Of Protestors Blocking Freeway Traffic Passes Committee

‘When these protestors block traffic, they are victimizing innocent individuals just to further a political agenda’

By Evan Symon, April 24, 2024 2:43 pm

A bill to double the penalties for protestors who block traffic on freeways in California gained strong Democratic support this week, passing the Assembly Transportation Committee despite earlier projections showing that it was unlikely to advance far because of previous Democratic opposition.

Assembly Bill 2742, authored by Assemblywoman Kate Sanchez (R-Trabuco Canyon), would specifically prohibit a person driving a vehicle upon a highway or a pedestrian from willfully obstructing a highway, including in the course of a protest, in any manner that interferes with the ability of an authorized emergency vehicle to pass and would make a violation of this provision punishable by doubled fines.

First convictions for blocking traffic with vehicles would between $100-$250, second convictions between $150-$500, and third convictions between $250-$500. Meanwhile, protestors themselves who block traffic would have fines of $200-$500 for first convictions, $300-$1,000 for second convictions, and $500-$1,000 for third convictions.

The bill was written because of the safety and traffic concerns of many protests that have occurred in places like San Francisco since late 2023. Spurred by opposing Israel in the Israel-Hamas War, protestors have, on multiple occasions, shut down major bridges such as the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge through protests.

“Like every other hardworking Californian, I’m sick and tired of seeing illegal protests shut down highways,” said Sanchez in February. “When they block traffic they’re preventing fire trucks from responding to emergencies, people getting to work, and parents picking up their kids at school. That’s why I’m proud to introduce AB 2742 to make sure that these entitled extremists know that their actions have consequences.

“When these protestors block traffic, they are victimizing innocent individuals just to further a political agenda. We need to ensure that the consequences for this behavior increase so that future instances are less likely to occur. When you’re talking about potentially stopping people from being able to get to emergency medical needs, it’s less than a speeding ticket nowadays. So, I feel like asking just to double the penalty or the fines necessary to show them we are more serious about what you’re doing, and please do it somewhere else, I don’t think that’s asking too much at all.”

Initially, AB 2742 was not expected to advance far because of early Democratic opposition. However, protestors resorting to more drastic measures, such as chaining themselves to cars and significantly increasing delays, have made many Democrats rethink their position on the bill. Nonetheless, going into the Assembly Transportation Committee vote on Monday, many Democrats were positive that the bill would be defeated then and there.

“I still believe that the bill is unnecessary and ultimately will not solve the problem,” said Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) on Monday.

However, the vote didn’t go the way Democrats had thought. The fifteen person committee swung a different way. Republican Assemblymembers Sanchez, Laurie Davies (R-Laguna Niguel), Josh Hoover (R-Folsom) and Greg Wallis (R-Rancho Mirage) all voted to pass the bill. However, because of the safety and traffic concerns, so did Assemblymembers Juan Carrillo (D-Palmdale), Gregg Hart (D-Santa Barbara), Diane Papan (D-San Mateo) and Chris Ward (D-San Diego). While 5 Democrats did end up voting against the bill, with two others abstaining, it was not enough. The now bipartisan bill passed 8-5 with abstentions, surprising many insiders at the Capitol.

“The general read on it had been that while it would be given a strong push, it was not going to make it out of the committee,” explained “Dana”, a staffer at the Capitol, to the Globe on Wednesday. “But what happened was that the protestors just made it more and more dangerous. The most recent Golden Gate Bridge protests were a big reason  for the switchovers, so in a weird way, you can thank the protestors for making this possible.

“Also, people aren’t against protesting as a principle. It’s a guaranteed right. But what they were doing was blocking traffic. That’s not just commuters. That’s police. That’s fire. That’s ambulances. That’s people who could be fired if they are late. They’re lucky one pissed off driver hasn’t plowed into them yet.

“So doubling the fines. A lot of lawmakers want to do more. But this is a good start, and as it was shown Monday, it doesn’t go too far for many Democrats. They hadn’t expected this to go anywhere. Well, the Palestinian protestors just made so many people mad that this now has a good chance of passing.”

AB 2742 is expected to be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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Evan Symon
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2 thoughts on “Bill to Double Fines Of Protestors Blocking Freeway Traffic Passes Committee

  1. The criminal Democrat mafia in the legislature will never allow this bill to pass because it’s their thugs who are blocking the freeways?

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