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Texas Lawmakers Pass Bill That Would Make Blocking Emergency Vehicles a Felony

Anti-police protesters frequently blocked ambulances during demonstrations last year

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• May 6, 2021 12:00 pm

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Texas lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would make it a felony to block traffic for an emergency vehicle.

The Texas House of Representatives passed H.B. 9, which would increase criminal penalties for obstructing ambulances or blocking access to a hospital, in an 84-60 vote. State Republicans authored the bill in response to a September incident in Los Angeles, where anti-police protesters blocked the entrance to a hospital that was treating two sheriff's deputies who were ambushed and shot.

"In an emergency, seconds matter," Republican state representative Stephanie Klick, the bill's primary author, said last week. "We all have a constitutional right to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment, but what we don't have is a right to prevent authorized emergency vehicles that can provide life-saving care."

Amid anti-police demonstrations last year, protesters frequently blocked traffic, including emergency vehicles. Last July, activists ignored requests from police to vacate an intersection and blocked an ambulance from reaching a motorcycle accident in Chattanooga, Tenn. That same month, demonstrators in St. Petersburg, Fla., obstructed an ambulance that was attempting to refuel.

Blocking traffic for an ambulance is a misdemeanor in Texas, but the bill would make the offense a state felony punishable by up to two years in prison. The legislation will now head to the state Senate.

Published under: Black Lives Matter, Protests