Hill’s protest bill draws own protest

Jessica Fuller • Updated Feb 14, 2017 at 11:03 PM

A group of protesters rallied in front of radio station WHCB Tuesday afternoon to protest a bill Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, introduced last week that would grant civil immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure protesters while exercising due care.

The protesters chose the radio station at 2175 Hwy 75 because Hill hosts his radio show, Bible Buddies, at that station and does not have a local office.

If passed, the bill, HB0668, would take effect July 1 and protesters injured by drivers would not be able to sue them. Hill specified that the bill would not protect drivers who intentionally or carelessly injure protesters from criminal charges.

“We want to remind Matthew Hill that he does have constituents, and we are paying attention to the bills that he has written and introduced within the last several days, and they did not come from us,” event organizer Ruth Taylor Read said. “He’s not representing us and we want him to know that.”

“I think what’s happened is in this community, resistance has become so visible that now we’ve made them uncomfortable, so I don’t think this has come from constituents, I think this has come from Matthew Hill’s office.”

Protests and marches have popped up locally and across the nation in response to the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban, prompting communities to gather in resistance like Tri-Cities Indivisible. The Facebook group has accumulated about 700 members in the month since its creation, and protesters like Sharon Brown said that community is important to this type of activism and to make their voices heard.

“Silence is consent and to do nothing is unacceptable we can not do nothing,” she said.

Read said Indivisible Tri-Cities invited state representatives for a meeting at Covenant Presbyterian church in Kingsport on Sunday, but so far only Rep. Bud Husley has agreed to meet with members of the group.

“We are tired of them representing their own personal interests instead of our own,” she said. “That’s not what we pay them to do. And now we are paying attention, we’re watching. We’re holding them accountable.”


Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected]. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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