A new bill in Oklahoma would protect drivers of vehicles who hit demonstrators and protesters who run onto highways. Oklahoma Representative Kevin McDugle is the sponsor of legislation that would provide both criminal and civil immunity for people who inadvertently drive into crowds that attempt to halt traffic on roadways as a method of protest.
The bill originated after public Black Lives Matter protests roiled the country last summer. In one incident, a pickup truck driving on Interstate 244 in Tulsa ran into three demonstrators who had attempted to block the road and surround the vehicle. One man fell from an overpass in the process and became paralyzed from the waist down.
But McDugle said the driver of that truck was scared for his life and the life of his family that was with him. Under the representative's proposed law, protesters would know that venturing into traffic would be at their own risk, with no legal avenue to pursue should a vehicle strike them.
Other states like Iowa, Missouri, and Utah have introduced different measures to try to counter the dangers posed by the increasing lawlessness.
Some protesters oppose the new legislation because they say blocking roadways are the kind of status-quo altering actions that must be engaged to make a point.
"The idea of escalating it to the point where you disrupt the convenience of the citizens and of the status quo, you have to do that sometimes to make a point," said Oklahoma activist Mark Faulk, who opposes McDugle's bill.
It's unclear how much support the proposed law will garner. Other bills in Oklahoma seek to punish those blocking roadways and public thoroughfares with jail time, but stop short of criminal immunity for drivers who strike protesters.