Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed a series of anti-riot bills in Oklahoma to increase penalties for demonstrators and rioters who block public roadways and grants immunity to motorists who unintentionally kill or injure protesters while attempting to flee a scene. This gives more protection to law enforcement and innocent bystanders. Another bill protects law enforcement and their families from “doxxing.” Oklahoma is one of the latest Republican-led states to crack down on riots against racism and police brutality.
“This is an important protection for citizens who are just trying to get out of a bad situation. When fleeing an unlawful riot, they should not face the threat of prosecution for trying to protect themselves, their families, or their property,” said Gov. Stitt.
HB 1674 would make it a misdemeanor crime to unlawfully obstruct traffic while participating in a riot. It also adds criminal and civil liability protections for motor vehicle operators. HB 1643 would make it punishable with a $1000 fine or up to six months in jail if someone with the intent to threaten, intimate, or harass posts personal information about a peace officer or public official. This would include instances where a peace officer or public official is in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.
While the House was in session to pass the bills, Black Lives Matter protesters stormed the Oklahoma Capitol and forced the GOP-controlled state Senate and House into lockdown for several minutes. Over two dozen protesters gathered in the gallery on the fifth-floor chanting, “Stand united against all hate,” and “We will use our voices to stand against corruption, to fight hate, to defend Black and Brown lives.” They also shouted “black lives matter” and “trans lives matter.”
In one video clip, a protester got in the face of Oklahoma Rep. Steve Bashore yelling that he was a “disgrace” and an “embarrassment” to the whole nation. “You are traitors, insurrectionists, seditionists,” another woman shouted. They described the bills as anti-protest and anti-transgender.
The bills, however, are an important protection for citizens trying to get out of a bad situation. Republican state Rep. Kevin West, a lawmaker who co-authored HB 1674, said people should not have to face the threat of prosecution for trying to protect themselves, their families, or their property when fleeing an unlawful riot. This would be the next step to protect Oklahomans’ right to free speech without the violent attempts of being silenced by powerful protests.
“I certainly support the right to peacefully protest and assemble. I will not, however, endorse rioters that spill onto city or state streets, blocking traffic and even harming property of vehicle operators who are simply trying to move freely. This law gives clarity to those motorists that they are in fact within their rights to seek safety,” Rep. West said.
Gov. Stitt also signed legislation to prevent residents from willfully disrupting government business at local public meetings. This was brought forward after county meetings were being disrupted by large-scale riots. Protesters even shut down an Oklahoma County Jail Trust meeting and delayed the vote on COVID-19 relief funds The meeting lasted less than two hours and by the end of the meeting, at least 16 deputies were present to begin arrests.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also signed an “anti-rioting” bill that would make it harder for local governments to strip funding from law enforcement and put a minimum sentence for those convicted of assaulting police officers. He described it as one of the “strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country,”
Republican-led states have seen the damage in radical left cities after a year’s worth of BLM-inspired riots and protests. Burning down community blocks and looting small businesses is not “fighting for justice,” it’s a crime. Where’s the mainstream media coverage on protesters storming the Oklahoma Capitol?