by WorldTribune Staff, March 12, 2021
The Republican-led House in Oklahoma has passed legislation that grants immunity to drivers who hit so-called “protesters” during riots.
The legislation, passed on Wednesday on a party-line vote, grants civil and criminal immunity for drivers who unintentionally injure or kill “protesters” while “fleeing from a riot.”
The legislation would allow prosecutors to charge rioters with a misdemeanor if they “unlawfully obstruct” streets or highways to a point that it hinders traffic.
Republican state Rep. Kevin McDugle, who introduced the bill, said he supports the rights of Oklahomans to protest peacefully, but riots are unacceptable.
“This bill simply says, ‘please stay to the peaceful protests,’ ” McDugle said. “Don’t block roads. Don’t impede on the freedoms of others.”
McDugle cited an incident in Tulsa in May where a pickup pulling a horse trailer drove through a group of Black Lives Matter rioters. Several rioters were injured.
The Tulsa County district attorney did not bring charges against the driver, saying several rioters attacked the pickup in which a man was driving his children.
“A large part of our duty as legislators is to protect our citizens. This is something that gives them protection,” Republican state Rep. Kevin West said.
Democrat state Rep. Regina Goodwin said the focus should be on “the real issues” that led people of color to speak out.
“Something happened over the summer,” Goodwin said. “If we were honest with ourselves, stuff didn’t just happen over the summer. Stuff has been happening for centuries. Could we be reasonable? Could we try to get to the root cause of why people are in the streets in the first place?”