According to a report from KOCO, the Oklahoma Senate this week passed a bill that would essentially give drivers a pass for hitting protestors with their vehicles, even if they’re seriously injured or killed:
“The bill would make it misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for anyone who blocks the use of a public street. The measure would also grant a motorist criminal and civil immunity if they kill or injure someone while fleeing from a riot.”
The report continues:
“Sen. Rob Standridge, a Republican from Norman who wrote the bill, said it was prompted mostly by an incident in Tulsa last summer in which a pickup truck drove through a crowd gathered on a Tulsa interstate while protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Several people were injured, including one who was paralyzed from the waist down after falling from an overpass, but the driver, whose family was in the car, was not charged.”
Zack Linly, writing for The Root, pointed out the obvious absurdity of such a bill:
“What about all the ways this bill could go wrong? What if during a chaotic protest, a participant ends up blocking a street unknowingly or by accident? That’s worth taking their freedom away for up to a year? What if motorists take this new law to mean that it’s open season on protesters once they get behind the wheel?”
In the wake of the growing movement of liberal protest groups like Black Lives Matter, lawmakers in Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee have also proposed similar “run over protestors” bills.
The Associated Press reports that the Oklahoma bill, which passed along party lines, 38-10, is on its way to be signed by the governor, and makes blocking public streets during a protest a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Sen. Rob Standridge, the Republican who wrote the bill, said it was initiated by an incident last summer in Tulsa, when truck drove into a crowd gathered on the interstate protesting the death of George Floyd. Several people were injured with one ending up paralyzed after falling from an overpass. The driver, however, was not charged.
“The kids cowered in the back seat because they feared for their lives,” Standridge said. “That’s what this bill is about.”
State Senator Kevin Matthews, a Democrat from Tulsa, was troubled to see such a bill that he believes targets protesters while ignoring the underlying issues of racism and police brutality:
“In my community, people were bombed from the air, people had cannons shot into our churches, by some accounts 300 people dead and businesses burned down. And it was said my people were rioting when it was not true.”
Matthews was referring to the 1921 attack on Tulsa’s black community by a white mob.