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New Bill Could Slow Down Protesters From Taking to Streets

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- When Springfield resident Bethany Johnson isn't at a protest, she's likely planning one.

"I was the organizer for a rally... Springfield Stands Up for Transgender People,” she says.

She calls the gatherings patriotic.

"It's a part of America's DNA to protest. Our country is founded on the free expression of ideas," she says.

But a new piece of state legislation-- house bill 826--could put a speed bump in the way of future protesters.

If the bill proposed by State Rep. Nick Marshall were to pass-- all those blocking traffic on a city street would be met with a misdemeanor charge. Those blocking an interstate highway however would be faced with a class E felony.

And a class D felony would be given to all who block traffic as a member of an unlawful assembly.

The legislation comes a only couple years after protesters from Ferguson Missouri blocked parts of Interstate 70.

"I think these guys in Jeff City need to get to their jobs and focus on things actually impacting people here in Missouri," says Johnson.

Johnson says the legislation is a scare tactic meant to oppress those willing to gather for a cause.

"They're making people scared. Oh gosh what if I go? What if? What if? What if," she explains. "Mr. Luther King shut down a highway for the march on Selma."

She says now, all she can do is hope people march forward despite the bill.

"It makes the people in Jefferson City; It makes people in Washington DC a little bit scared. They're scared of their constituents," she says.


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