“In a rare, early-morning vote, Republican lawmakers in the Oklahoma House approved legislation to grant immunity to drivers who hit protesters,” reports Carmen Forman.
On a party-line vote, with Republicans in favor, the Oklahoma House passed House Bill 1674, which “grants civil and criminal immunity for drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters while ‘fleeing from a riot,'” according to Forman. The bill would also “allow prosecutors to charge with a misdemeanor protesters who ‘unlawfully obstruct’ streets or highways to a point that it hinders traffic. The legislation also outlines punishments and fines for organizations involved in the planning of a riot.”
The article includes a lot of detail about the debate the preceded the vote, with Democrats and Black legislators expressing dismay that HB 1674 is taking priority over reforms of the problems of systemic racism that led to the protests. Republicans insist they are trying to protect drivers from protestors.
HB 1674 still requires approval from the state Senate and a signature from the governor to become law. Previous reporting by the Associated Press provides additional background on the bill.
There’s precedent for this kind of response to the Black Lives Matters protests of the Spring and Summer of 2020. In 2017, six state legislatures considered similar bills after a driver killed a protestor in Charlottesville, Virginia. Only a bill in North Carolina advanced beyond committee.