Activists Circulate Petition Against State Law Allowing Drivers To Hit “Rioters” In The Street

Mike Seals - August 25, 2021 10:57 am

OKLAHOMA CITY – 

Wednesday is the deadline for activists hoping to challenge a controversial new law that protects drivers who hit “rioters” in the street.

Activists were at Oklahoma City’s Tower Theatre collecting signatures until two Wednesday morning.

Activist Joshua Harris-Till said they’re pushing to change House Bill 16-74 because the language isn’t clear and it’s dangerous.

“It restricts where you can protest by saying if you unreasonably inconvenience traffic that could be an arrestable offense. It doesn’t define what unreasonably inconvenience means though, so that could mean blocking a highway or too many people standing too far off a sidewalk,” said Harris-Till.

The group has been canvassing for signatures, Harris-Till says many people have been supportive but others have not.

“We have had a lot of people chastise our circulators and say I think people should be able to hit protestors or if they are in the street they deserve to be hit and it is very disheartening, but it paints a very clear picture of why this doesn’t need to be law,” said Harris-Till.

The new law gives immunity to drivers who injure or kill someone in the street if they fear for their lives during a riot.

A riot is defined in Section 1311 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

The state defines a riot as “Any use of force or violence, or any threat to use force or violence if accompanied by the immediate power of execution, by three or more persons acting together and without the authority of law.”

But Oklahoma Law does not have a legal definition for the term “protest.” If this came up and someone used their car to hit and injure a protestor it could be difficult to differentiate the two and it adds to the lack of clarity the group is concerned about.

“If these people are saying I would run someone over with my car, then this law is giving them permission to do it and that is what makes it more dangerous than anything,” said Harris-Till

Oklahoma state Rep. Kevin West, who authored the bill, sent News 9 the following statement:

“House Bill 1674 protects innocent motorists who find themselves caught in the middle of a violent riot and who fear for their lives. I am a strong supporter of the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, but I am not a supporter of endangering the lives of others and destroying property during a violent riot. Oklahoma law allows the petitioners to try and get a state question on the ballot, and if it gets there, the people of Oklahoma will be able to make their voices heard on the legislation.”

The group did not say how many signatures they have collected so far but they said even though turn-in day is Wednesday, they will continue collecting in the days to come.

Click here to read HB 1674: http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2021-22%20ENR/hB/HB1674%20ENR.PDF

Click here to read more on the petition: https://www.noon816.com/?fbclid=IwAR1lBAXNdANRxH05vJnMIRLJ2H9cV_EHErg3XMONO5ogL0MHvjUMdPQeG0c

 

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