Unlawful Assembly added to Oklahoma RICO Statutes
Mike Seals - April 28, 2021 10:43 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Kevin Stitt today signed a bill that adds unlawful assembly to Oklahoma’s Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
House Bill 2095 was authored by Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore, in the House and Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, in the Senate.
“This is one of many bills passed this session that is aimed at curbing the increase in rioting we have seen over the past year,” said Lepak. “Many otherwise peaceful protests are being co-opted by individuals whose goal is to create and escalate uncontrollable confrontation and mayhem, which is certainly not free speech. What is different about this bill is that it is targeted at those who organize, promote, and otherwise incite the riots, violence, looting, and property damage we’ve seen, even if they are not physically present. These bad actors need to be held accountable for their actions in order to keep both peaceful protestors and the public safe.”
Daniels added, “Free speech and peaceful assembly are rights guaranteed under the constitution, and I have previously authored legislation protecting those rights—but riots are unlawful assemblies that can lead to the destruction of private and public property, injuries and even death,” Daniels said. “Those who organize an unlawful assembly or arrange to disrupt a lawful assembly should be held accountable for their actions.”
The Oklahoma anti-racketeering law is based on the federal government’s RICO statute. RICO, passed federally in 1970, is designed to combat organized crime. These laws allow prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. The provisions contained within HB 2095 will go into effect on November 1, 2021.