Lawmaker Says “Total Government Failure” is Putting Truckers and Protesters in Danger
St. Paul, MN – A Minnesota lawmaker is once again speaking out about the dangers presented by protests staged on major U.S. roadways and is placing the blame squarely on the U.S. government for any further bloodshed.
Minnesota State Representative Cal Bahr (R), who has a more than 30-year career as a trucker and is currently a semi-tanker driver, tells Transportation Nation Network (TNN) our leaders are “letting everyone down” by not enforcing its own safety laws.
“When the government doesn’t actually enforce its rules, what’s next?” Rep. Bahr said in a recent interview with TNN. “Which other rules are you going to not enforce? This is just one more example of a total government failure.”
Rep. Bahr contends those who argue the First Amendment grants citizens the right to shut down a highway or interfere with interstate commerce are simply wrong.
“It’s not a First Amendment issue. It’s a safety issue. We do not want people killed by walking on an interstate highway,” he said.
Specifically, Rep. Bahr pointed to the near disaster that unfolded along Interstate 35 in Minneapolis earlier this year, shortly after social unrest was ignited following the death of George Floyd.
Semi-tanker driver Bogdan Vechirko unintentionally drove into a crowd of thousands of protesters barely averting a potentially mass casualty event.
Rep. Bahr argued Minnesota law enforcement and Department of Transportation (MnDOT) officials should have never allowed the protesters to take to the highway in the first place.
“It was definitely avoidable. They were watching all these [traffic] cameras. They knew there was a big mob protest moving toward the freeway. You can’t block the protesters from going on? Nobody took any action to prevent a fuel truck and protesters from coming within a hair’s breadth of death,” he said.
TNN reported last month that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is still considering bringing charges against the trucker, though authorities have already said they will not charge any of the protesters for assaulting Vechirko as well as stealing personal items such as his phone and wallet.
“If they file charges on Mr. Vechirko they are demonstrating political bias again,” Rep. Bahr said. “If the pedestrians would have been following the law and staying off of the interstate highway, Mr. Vechirko would not have a problem. Mr. Vechirko should have been able to operate down an interstate highway not expecting to see pedestrians standing in the middle of the freeway.”
Further, the Minnesota state lawmaker said criticism of Vechirko is unwarranted.
“That particular bridge, if you’re coming up there you cannot see whether there’s a person standing on that bridge until you’re right on top of them. There’s a rise in there, you come around a corner and up over a rise and if you are traveling at the speed limit you’re on top of the protesters before you have any ability to stop.”
Even as that incident is a stark example of the dangers of allowing protests on major roadways, the problem is persisting in cities across the nation.
Then, consider that the USDOT just won a U.S. District Court decision in which the Department argued the Transportation Secretary is not obligated, but rather has the “absolute discretion,” whether or not to enforce federal law designed to prevent disruption of interstate commerce.
Click HERE to read more about this controversial case.
“This whole thing is mind-boggling to me,” Rep. Bahr said of what is happening in America. “I think the U.S. Department of Transportation is letting truckers down, the motoring public, and the public at large. They are actually letting the protesters down by allowing these things to happen.”
Last month, Rep. Bahr sent letters to USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao and Attorney General Bill Barr asking that federal transportation funds be withheld from Minnesota until local leaders move to curb the highway demonstrations.
What response has he received so far?
“I got zero response from either of those in the federal government,” he stated.
Perhaps most concerning to Rep. Bahr is that selective enforcement of laws is “not going to end well.”
“At some point this will get out of control. This very easily could lead to all out rioting in the streets like a civil war kind of thing,” he predicted. “People say ‘that’ll never happen in the United States.’ You are seeing it. You are witnessing it.”