I’m glad I wasn’t in my truck trying to cross the Willamette River on the Van Buren Street Bridge in Corvallis Saturday. Demonstrators claiming to protest police brutality around the country blocked the bridge for “more than 15 minutes,” as the Gazette-Times reported. If the drivers prevented from crossing the bridge had been the impatient kind, one wonders what might have happened.
Nobody was arrested, the paper reported. That seems odd. You can now block the only direct exit from town toward the interstate highway system and not be held responsible?
Here’s what I’m wondering. What if a driver at the front of the blocked column of vehicles had an urgent appointment that Saturday afternoon? Or what if she had to get to a bathroom right away and could not risk just sitting in a traffic jam for who knew how long? Would such drivers have been justified in nosing ahead slowly and pushing demonstrators out of the way with their front bumpers?
If a protester refused to move and got run over, would the driver be charged with something? Or would the injured demonstrator have to answer for obstructing traffic, broken legs or no?
Or what if someone got into a fender bender because the bridge was blocked? Could he try to recover damages from the protest organizers, assuming they could be identiied and served with a summons?
No one doubts the right of people to demonstrate. But they don’t have any right to cause trouble for fellow citizens who may or may not share their views or their cause. (hh)