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EDITORIAL: Tribal Rangers deserve praise for enforcing law

The right to protest doesn’t include a right to block traffic. A group of climate alarmists in Northern Nevada learned that the hard way.

On Sunday, thousands of people were attempting to make their way to the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert. Climate activists with Seven Circle and Extinction Rebellion used a trailer to block traffic. Some activists even chained themselves to it. The irony of climate protesters causing extra greenhouse emissions by forcing cars to idle unnecessarily appeared lost on them.

Protesters wanted Burning Man to ban private jets, single-use plastics and the unlimited use of generators and propane. Leave aside what you think about those proposals. There are many places where it would be appropriate to gather and hold a rally for those causes. Nevada has tens of thousands of square miles of desert where these groups could have demonstrated without violating the law.

One of those places isn’t in the middle of a public road.

“Get off the highway,” a Pyramid Lake Paiute tribal police officer told the protesters from his police pickup. “This is a state route. Everybody will be arrested if not.”

They should have moved. A viral video showed a second tribal police truck pushing the barricade out of the way. The ranger jumped out of his truck and arrested the protester. In all, five demonstrators received a citation. This wasn’t a homegrown protest either. The arrested individuals came from places such as New York, California and the country of Malta.

James J. Phoenix, the tribe’s chairman, said the confrontation is under review. When it’s concluded, the rangers should get a medal. The same principle that gives people the right to protest gives other people the right to ignore them. When demonstrators violate traffic laws to draw attention to themselves, society depends on the police to rectify the situation. Law enforcement officers have an obligation to enforce the law.

This is how a civil society functions. It’s what allows people with diverse viewpoints to live in relative harmony. Not doing this encourages illegal behavior. Look at how thefts in Nevada and other states multiplied after politicians decreased penalties so much that many shoplifting crimes aren’t even reported.

Videos of the confrontation revealed a sense of entitlement among climate activists. After police pushed through the barricade, one screamed in shock, “We’re nonviolent. Why would you do this?”

Because police were doing their job. Next time environmental alarmists want a sympathetic reception for breaking the law, they should try California.

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