Backlash over GOP bills to shield drivers who hit protesters

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. file photo, anti-Donald Trump protesters block traffic as they march in the middle of Guadalupe Street next to the University of Texas at Austin on Inauguration Day. In 2017, Republican legislators in at least six states, including Texas, have introduced bills that would shield drivers from civil liability if they unintentionally injure or kill protesters obstructing traffic. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Republican lawmakers in six states have pushed this year for legal protections for motorists who hit protesters blocking traffic. Fairly or not, they're facing an intense backlash now that violent images of a car ramming into a crowd protesting a white supremacist rally have been seen around the world.

The lawmakers say their goal has never been to incite violence, but to shield drivers from costly lawsuits for accidents they blame on illegal street protests. Bills in Texas and North Carolina to protect drivers from civil liability if they unintentionally injure or kill protesters remain pending, but their chances of passage appear dim after Saturday's attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, which killed a woman and injured at least 19 people. The four other bills were voted down or failed without advancing.

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