Oklahoma Passes Law That Protects Drivers Who Hit Protesters

Drivers in Oklahoma who hit protesters with their cars while trying to flee will be able to go without punishment under a new law signed in the state. 

Governor Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 1674 on Wednesday (April 21), giving immunity to drivers who injure or kill protesters unintentionally with their cars. According to CNN, the law also imposes stricter penalties for protesters who block public roads. 

“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 law, which was sponsored by Republican state lawmakers, passed in the Oklahoma Senate 38-10. 

Protesters who block roadways can face a year in prison or a $5,000 fine under the new law. Additionally, drivers who kill or injure a demonstrator with the cars can’t be held criminally or civilly responsible if they have “reasonable belief” that they are in danger and are “fleeing from a riot.” 

Between May and September 5, 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported that drivers hit protesters at least 104 times across the US.

The legislation is just one of similar measures being passed in the wake of ongoing protests against racial injustice and police violence. Florida recently passed an "anti-riot" law. According to the US Protest Law Tracker, since 2016, at least 45 states have considered imposing legislation on protests while 30 have already enacted laws.

Photo: Getty Images

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