NYC Protesters Blocking Traffic Could Be Charged With ‘Domestic Terrorism’

Protesters who block roadways in New York could face felony charges for “engaging in an act of domestic terrorism” under a newly proposed state law.

New York Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, a Democrat from Queens, recently introduced a bill that aims to make it a felony to deliberately block traffic in the state.

Pheffer Amato’s measure comes amid months of pro-Palestinian protests that have created chaos on New York City streets since the conflict in the Middle East erupted in October 2023. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested for blocking and disrupting rush-hour traffic in the city on busy roadways, such as the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges and the Holland Tunnel. Other protests have resulted in altercations between participants and New York City police.

The assemblywoman’s bill aims to change state law to make such stunts a “domestic act of terrorism” and make it a Class D felony to intentionally block public roads, bridges, transportation facilities or tunnels in New York, according to a copy of the legislation. The measure is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Sam Berger, who is also a Democrat from Queens.

Newsweek reached out via email on Saturday night to Pheffer Amato for comment.

Members of the activist group Jewish Voice for Peace join others in protesting President Joe Biden’s visit to Manhattan due to his continued support for Israel in the Middle Eastern country’s war against Hamas in…

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In a statement justifying the need for the new measure, Pheffer Amato wrote that while the U.S. Constitution enshrines Americans’ right to freely protest, it does not give demonstrators the right to “cause fear, panic and put the lives of other people in danger.”

“When those who protest directly hinder the ability for pedestrians and motorists to freely move, impacting their ability to arrive at a location, or seek aid, that is unacceptable,” the assemblywoman wrote. “The purposeful blocking of bridges, tunnels and road-ways which results in cars being stopped, sick people not being able to get medical attention, or any attempt to prevent innocent people from getting from Point A to Point B is not appropriate or fair – in fact it is flat out dangerous.”

The demonstrations started after Israel began its assault on Gaza in response to the surprise October 7, 2023, attack by Hamas militants in southern Israel, which killed at least 1,200 people and resulted in hundreds of others being taken hostage.

So far, more than 27,000 Palestinians have since been killed by Israel, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which notes that the death count is likely higher, as thousands more Palestinians are believed to be buried under rubble in Gaza, according to Reuters.

The number of civilians killed in Gaza, especially children, has sparked protests all over the world where participants have been calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas.

It was unclear at the time of publication whether Pheffer Amato’s bill has support for passage.