Activist Wants Statewide Vote On Law Cracking Down On Protesters, Protecting Drivers Who Hit Rioters

Apr 27, 2021

Protesters march from Fort Sill in July 2019 in a demonstration against Trump administration plans to detain up to 1,400 migrant children at the Army base.
Credit Dream Action Oklahoma

An Oklahoma Democratic leader wants to overturn a new law to crack down on protesters.

Under a bill signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt last week, there will be increased penalties for protesters blocking roadways starting Nov. 1. The law also gives criminal and civil immunity to drivers who hit people considered rioters, even if someone dies.

Young Democrats of America President Joshua Harris-Till said he is pursuing a veto referendum because there ought to be a statewide vote on the bill.

"I don’t think that any of the legislators who voted for it did their due diligence in making sure that their communities actually supported this, and I think that you’ll see very quickly from the growing amount of support that we have coming in that this is going to be something that’s going to be overturned," Harris-Till said.

More than 500 people have signed up to help with the veto referendum campaign, which needs almost 60,000 signatures within 90 days.

Harris-Till said the law is a source of international embarrassment for Oklahoma and shows where lawmakers’ priorities lie.

"I think you saw a lot of legislation that did nothing to improve Oklahoma. Our education system isn’t getting better, our health care system isn’t getting better, our jails aren’t even getting any better when we’re seeing what’s happening over there, our roads aren’t getting any better. Like, what got improved this year?" Harris-Till said.

Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted on Saturday the bill is "horrible."

The bill's supporters have often referred to an incident in Tulsa last summer, where a man drove a pickup truck through a crowd gathered on I-244 while protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Several people were injured, including one who was paralyzed from the waist down after falling from an overpass, but the driver was not charged.