Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says it’s the message that’s important: that state residents will be protected if demonstrators or rioters block public roads and a conflict develops.
American Military News reported Friday that legislation signed by the governor now protects drivers who injure or even kill someone while escaping a riot.
“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.
There also are higher penalties for those caught blocking roadways.
The proposal came from Republican state Rep. Kevin West and makes willfully blocking traffic a misdemeanor punishable that can get a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
And, “Motorists will also be protected from criminal or civil charges if they hit a rioter while attempting to escape, and that rioter is injured or killed,” the report explained.
Opposition from lawmakers was nominal, with a 79-18 vote in the House and 38-10 in the Senate.
“Every person who shall knowingly and willfully obstruct the normal use of any public street, highway or road within this state by impeding, hindering or restraining motor vehicle traffic or passage thereon, by standing or approaching motor vehicles thereon, or by endangering the safe movement of motor vehicles or pedestrians traveling thereon shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor,” the new law specifies.
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