OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed a controversial invoice that might grant civil and felony immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters whereas driving away from a riot.
The invoice is only one of a handful of Republican-backed proposals launched within the Oklahoma Legislature this 12 months aimed toward cracking down on protests.
HB 1674 protects drivers who concern for his or her security whereas “fleeing from a riot” and additionally updates state regulation to categorise as a misdemeanor the illegal obstruction of a street or freeway.
“I actually assist the suitable to peacefully protest and assemble,” West mentioned. “I cannot, nevertheless, endorse rioters that spill onto metropolis or state streets, blocking site visitors and even harming property of car operators who’re merely attempting to maneuver freely. This regulation offers readability to these motorists that they’re in truth inside their rights to hunt security.”
The ACLU of Oklahoma says it’s in “severe conversations” with its companions on efforts to guard Oklahomans’ proper to free speech.
“The ability of protest belongs with the folks, and we won’t tolerate these makes an attempt to silence Oklahomans,” mentioned Nicole McAfee, the group’s director of coverage and advocacy.
Adriana Legal guidelines, founding father of the Collegiate Freedom and Justice Coalition, mentioned the Oklahoma Legislature has launched an assault on taxpaying Oklahomans.
Legal guidelines was certainly one of about 35 demonstrators who marched via the Oklahoma state Capitol Wednesday afternoon to protest what they described as anti-protest payments advancing via the GOP-controlled legislature.
“They’re concentrating on teams of protesters who’re simply wanting to make use of their freedom of speech, passing payments that may intimidate them within the hopes of preserving folks from utilizing their First Modification rights, passing payments that decriminalize the homicide of protesters, which is totally insane,” she mentioned.
The protesters have been compelled out of the Home gallery Wednesday afternoon after they began yelling at lawmakers. No less than two protesters have been escorted out of the constructing by members of the Oklahoma Freeway Patrol, who guard the Capitol.
Critics of HB 1674 say the legislature is cracking down on protests following widespread Black Lives Matter and racial justice protests over the summer season.
They’ve additionally expressed issues that the laws would disproportionately hurt folks of colour, who generally really feel as if protesting is the one manner they’ll advocate for justice in response to police misconduct.
Shelley Free, a Tulsa resident who protested on the Capitol, mentioned though folks could also be inconvenienced by protesters blocking a roadway, that does not give them the suitable to hurt protesters.
“I discover that to be inhumane and a direct assault on our freedoms to assemble and to talk fact to the powers of governance right here,” she mentioned.
HB 1674 takes impact Nov. 1.
Contributing: JaNae Williams