Protesters storm Okla. House chamber over bill shielding motorists caught in riots

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Oklahoma House of Representatives chamber

Lawmakers locking doors while chanting protesters storm a legislative building — sound familiar? Dangerous insurrectionists, right?

Except in this case the two dozen-plus angry protesters were leftists protesting Republicans in Oklahoma who were trying to protect motorists from street protests, and girls’ sports from female impersonators. They swarmed into the Oklahoma House of Representatives chamber during a session on April 21 to demonstrate against bills targeting demonstrators and transgender men, a DailyMail.com article reports.

Both the House and Senate chambers were locked as protesters entered the Capitol’s House gallery while lawmakers were in session. Video shows the group chanting “no justice no peace” and “Black Lives Matter.” Some obscenity-laced heckling was aimed at legislators.

The group was demonstrating against a Republican-backed bill that protects motorists from legal consequences when they strike protesters or rioters who surround or block their cars.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill on April 21.

The measure grew directly out of protests last summer that were purportedly over racial injustice and police brutality, and makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for anyone who blocks a public street. The measure also grants drivers immunity if they kill or hurt someone while attempting to escape from a riot.

Sen. Rob Standridge wrote the bill, and said it was inspired primarily by a 2020 incident in Tulsa in which a pickup truck drove through a crowd gathered on an interstate 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. The driver, whose family was in the car, was not charged.

Other bills the group protested included anti-abortion bills and the Senate Bill 2, which would ban transgender “girls” from girls’ sports teams. Oklahoma is one of more than a dozen states looking at restrictions on athletics or gender-changing health care for transgender minors this year.

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