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Oklahoma passes law that protects drivers who unintentionally injure or kill people while escaping riots

2020 Trump Tulsa rally - Tulsa
Demonstrators march outside the BOK Center where President Trump will hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20, 2020.

Oklahoma has passed legislation that protects drivers who unintentionally injure or kill people participating in riots.

The bill, signed into law by Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday, also makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and as much as a $5,000 fine, to obstruct a roadway or impede vehicular traffic. House Bill 1674 was introduced after a viral incident last summer in which a pickup truck pulling a trailer plowed through Black Lives Matter protesters on Interstate 244 in Tulsa. Three people were badly injured, including a 33-year-old man who fell from an overpass and was paralyzed from the waist down.

“We are sending a message today in Oklahoma that rioters who threaten law abiding citizens’ safety will not be tolerated. I remain unequivocally committed to protecting every Oklahoman’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest as well as their right to feel safe in their community,” Stitt said. The state representative, Kevin West, HB 1674’s author, said voters contacted him last summer with concerns about protests elsewhere in the country, the Oklahoman reported. “Most of it was what we were seeing nationwide, and just a lot of concern that could come to our backyard real quick,” West said.

Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, spoke in a video from February about his desire for legislation like HB 1674. Beyond protecting drivers who run people over, he hoped those who were obstructing traffic would be held liable – “I guess if they’re alive – if there’s anything left of ’em”. “If you’re unlawfully blocking a roadway for the intent purpose of possibly doing damage, to scare people, to harm people,” he warned, “folks, you could be treated on with the car tires.”

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ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: NBC NEWS

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