Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law a bill that would protect motorists who inadvertently harm rioters blocking public roads. The Black Lives Matter movement in Oklahoma responded to the passage of the law by storming the Oklahoma State Capitol.
The bill in question, House Bill 1674, was authored by State Rep. Kevin West and State Sen. Rob Standridge, both Republicans. The bill provides legal protections “for motor vehicle operators who unintentionally cause injury or death to an individual participating in a riot under certain circumstances” provided that it can be proven there was a “reasonable belief” the life of the driver or his passengers were in danger.
Standridge said he was moved to propose this piece of legislation because of an incident that occurred in Tulsa in May 2020 following the death of George Floyd.
During the incident, a family in a pickup truck was forced to drive through a crowd of violent rioters to protect themselves. Several people were injured in the incident, and one demonstrator was paralyzed from the waist down. The driver was not charged.
“The [driver’s] kids cowered in the back seat because they feared for their lives,” Standridge explained while the bill was on the Senate floor. “That’s what this bill is about.”
Stitt signed HB 1674 into law on Wednesday, April 21. It will take effect on Nov. 1, 2021.
Before Stitt was able to sign HB 1674, a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators attempted to stall its passage in the Oklahoma Legislature. Dozens of Black Lives Matter agitators stormed the fifth-floor gallery of the Oklahoma House of Representatives while the chamber was in session.
Footage from the incident showed the demonstrators rising up from their seats in the gallery, raising their fists and chanting “Black Lives Matter,” “Stand united against all hate” and “We will use our voices to stand against corruption, to fight hate, to defend Black and Brown lives.”
In addition to HB 1674, the demonstrators were also protesting another bill – signed by Stitt later that day – that would have criminalized “doxxing” police officers. This refers to the act of willfully publicizing the personal information of individuals with the intent of harming, threatening or intimidating them. This information includes their social media accounts, home addresses, personal phone numbers and place of employment.
The demonstrators were also trying to prevent the passage of an “anti-transgender” bill that would prohibit individuals of the “male sex” from participating in athletic teams designated for “females, women or girls.” Read more…