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Utah Legislator Will Change Bill That Would Protect Drivers Who Hit Protesters

A photo of protests.
Lexi Peery
St. George protesters clash with people in a car during a Black Lives Matter protest in June.

A controversial bill approved by a Utah legislative committee that would give legal protections to drivers who hit protesters will be modified.

Lex Scott, the founder of Utah’s Black Lives Matter chapter, announced the change on Facebook live Monday after she spoke to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove.

“We had a very long talk,” Scott said. “He was very reasonable and I just explained how hurtful that was. As someone who protests a lot, we don't want to get run over.”

The bill would also make obstructing traffic during a riot a third-degree felony.

Hawkins said when he introduced the bill in November, he was trying to strike a balance between protecting protesters and those caught up in them. But the response he got from people surprised him.

“It was short sighted on my part,” Hawkins said. “And I'm glad that we have people that are interested in getting it right and voicing their opinion. You know, we'll get it right or we won't do it at all.”

The bill could be considered by the state Legislature during January’s general session, if Hawkins chooses to bring it forward. He said it depends on if law enforcement and civil rights groups can agree on legislation because he doesn’t want to “alienate” anyone.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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