Patterico's Pontifications

3/11/2021

Oklahoma Bill Protects Drivers Who Hit Pedestrians While Caught Up In Riots

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:36 am



[guest post by Dana]

Another state reacting to the upheaval of last summer:

Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday that would make more clear the rights of drivers who strike pedestrians if they feel their lives are in danger during a riot.

On a party-line vote Wednesday, the House passed a bill that grants civil and criminal immunity for drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters while “fleeing from a riot.”

State Rep. Kevin West, a Republican, introduced the measure that he said would clarify a motorist’s rights in situations where a driver is looking to flee the scene of a riot.

House Bill 1674 from Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, is just one of a handful of GOP-sponsored bills in the Oklahoma Legislature this year designed to crack down on protests.

Here are the details:

HB 1674 states that every person who unlawfully obstructs – or makes impassable or hazardous – the normal use of any public street, highway or road within Oklahoma by impeding, hindering or restraining motor vehicle traffic or passengers, by endangering the safe movement of motor vehicles or pedestrians shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not less than $100 and not exceeding $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment. In addition, the person shall be liable for all damages to person or property, according to the news release.

The measure also addresses organizations found to have conspired with people found guilty of committing crimes under rioting statutes, officials said. Those organizations shall be fined 10 times the amount authorized by the appropriate provision.

The bill’s co-author, Rep. Kevin McDugle offered this background:

“Last summer, during the height of violent riots that were sweeping the nation, resulting in loss of life and millions of dollars in property damage, a motorist in Oklahoma traveling with his wife and two school-aged children was surrounded by aggressive protestors in the roadway,” West said. “The protestors beat at his truck and threw things at it, scaring both him and his family. The driver was severely chastised for trying to hurt the protesters and he even faced the possibility of criminal charges for his actions in attempting to evade the protestors. This measure would clarify a motorist’s rights in a similar situation going forward. It also would clarify punishments for rioters acting illegally to impede traffic or seeking harm of other individuals during the course of a riot.”

“I fully agree that peaceful protests are a right of the people, and I condone anyone who wants to protest peacefully,” McDugle said. “Once anyone impedes on the freedoms of others, however, the protest is no longer peaceful. I simply want to make sure people on both sides of any issue are kept safe and have the right to defend or protect their families when they feel their lives are threatened.”

As one would expect, Democrats objected to the bill. Rather than going after protesters, they believed that lawmakers should be “taking steps to address systemic racism and police misconduct that have spurred widespread Black Lives Matter protests”.

Why not do both? Focusing on one issue doesn’t negate the ability to focus on the other issue.

–Dana

15 Responses to “Oklahoma Bill Protects Drivers Who Hit Pedestrians While Caught Up In Riots”

  1. Good morning.

    Dana (fd537d)

  2. This seems like a reasonable law that clarifies what already appears to be the application of the laws.

    Time123 (b4d075)

  3. I foresee OK drivers targeting protestors.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  4. I think that’s a very real possibility, Rip Murdock. Especially in Oklahoma.

    Dana (fd537d)

  5. s, they believed that lawmakers should be “taking steps to address systemic racism and police misconduct that have spurred widespread Black Lives Matter protests”.

    So all protests are justified, including the one on Capitol Hill? And even if justified, protests can be revented annd harms resulting from protests avoided can be avoided by remeded somehow by doing something relating to the “cause?” This is a cop out.

    Someone might remind these legislators who raised that alternative that, no matter how sympathetic a public official might be, not one of them has promised that what they are protesting about will never happen again. Not one has promised that no unarmed black person will be killed by a police officer again. They know that such promises can’t be made.

    Sammy Finkelman (4227f2)

  6. The objection to the law is that it seems too plainly to give a trapped driver the right to run over people. Now they do have a right to do so now if the person they were running over was endangering their life. The law could be clarified but maybe not quite this way.

    Sammy Finkelman (4227f2)

  7. I foresee OK drivers targeting protestors.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8) — 3/11/2021 @ 9:22 am

    I think the devil is in the details on this. Part of it feels like virtue signaling from the OK legislature, but making it clear that self defense is a valid defense in this situation seems like a good thing. But it probably depends on what the test is in this situation. If it allows you to run into a picketer that’s slow getting out of the cross walk it shouldn’t be passed.

    Time123 (6e0727)

  8. This proposed law, along with the proposed Kentucky statute allowing the arrest of protestors for “taunting” police, is part and parcel of Trump and his supporters advocation of violence against perceived “enemies.” In addition, this underreported prosecution of a reporter for doing her job fits into the same pattern.

    Iowa reporter acquitted in a trial that shocked press freedom advocates
    ……
    Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri was arrested and pepper-sprayed while covering a racial justice protest that descended into chaos on May 31. Des Moines police also arrested Sahouri’s boyfriend at the time, Spenser Robnett, who said he had accompanied her to help keep her safe. The pair faced fines and up to 30 days in jail for two charges: failure to disperse and interference with official acts.

    Both of them were acquitted on all charges after a three-day joint trial, and less than two hours of jury deliberation.
    ……
    Police in Des Moines arrested at least 79 people over the course of three days of demonstrations last May. Polk County dismissed charges in many of those cases because of insufficient evidence of arrest documentation, according to the Register’s review of court records.

    Sahouri, who had been covering the protests, arrived at Merle Hay Mall on May 31 before the scene turned chaotic in the evening. She live-tweeted updates about looters breaking into a shoe store and posted photos of police using tear gas on crowds of people before crossing the street to another parking lot.

    The arresting officer, Luke Wilson of the Des Moines police department, testified that he arrived at the area that evening to find crowds of people throwing objects, and fogged the area with pepper spray in an attempt to make them leave.
    …….
    Under questioning, the officer conceded that Sahouri had been affected by the pepper spray but said that she had been one of the only people who failed to leave the scene and that she didn’t identify herself as a reporter. He also said that Robnett, who testified that he accompanied Sahouri to the protest for her safety, tried to interfere in her arrest. “He was obviously trying to pull her from me,” Wilson said. So he pepper-sprayed Robnett and arrested him, too.

    Sahouri, Robnett and another reporter, Katie Akin, all disputed that version of events.

    “I put up my hands and I say ‘I’m press’ because he was coming like, right at me, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to run from officers,” Sahouri testified. “He grabbed me, he pepper-sprayed me and said, ‘That’s not what I asked.’”

    Akin, who also worked for the Register at the time, testified that she had been reporting alongside Sahouri and that like Sahouri and Robnett, she heard no police order to disperse and didn’t see anyone interfere with any arrests. She said the group had moved away from the commotion at the mall to a nearby parking lot before Wilson arrested Sahouri.

    Body-camera footage became a focal point of the trial. For months, prosecutors resisted attempts to share evidence of the incident, contending it wasn’t required in a simple misdemeanor case and it would be too costly. When a judge eventually ordered them otherwise, police revealed Wilson hadn’t saved the video from his body camera, contrary to department policy.

    But at trial, the defense called a second officer, Natale Chiodo, who arrived in the parking lot just after Sahouri’s arrest. That officer’s body camera had recorded the journalist in Wilson’s handcuffs, complaining that she had been blinded by the pepper spray, saying, “I’m with the Des Moines Register … I’m just doing my job. I’m a journalist.”

    The video also showed Chiodo telling Akin to leave while Sahouri was being handcuffed. He testified that he didn’t arrest Akin because she identified herself as a member of the media and that she “wasn’t disobeying or showing any signs of not wanting to do what we said. She just looked to me to be scared.”

    At another protest the following day, video showed an officer spray Akin in the eye with chemicals after she identified herself as a reporter 17 times within 30 seconds. ……
    ……..

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  9. This looks like an unfortunate level of permission to commit vehicular homicide. How do they prove someone wasn’t afraid? It also seems likely to have freedom to assemble problems.

    Nic (896fdf)

  10. Sailboats and pedestrians have the right of way.

    End of story.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  11. Further down the slippery slope might be a law where one is not charged with leaving the scene of an accident. In some cases, people traveling through rough neighborhoods or neighborhoods where demographics are different than theirs might be tempted to high tail it rather than deal with a mob.

    urbanleftbehind (3101eb)

  12. This reminds me of the Reginald Denny incident. He was in a semi truck. It’s too bad he chose to stop.

    norcal (01e272)

  13. Under questioning, the officer conceded that Sahouri had been affected by the pepper spray but said that she had been one of the only people who failed to leave the scene and that she didn’t identify herself as a reporter. He also said that Robnett, who testified that he accompanied Sahouri to the protest for her safety, tried to interfere in her arrest. “He was obviously trying to pull her from me,” Wilson said. So he pepper-sprayed Robnett and arrested him, too.

    Sahouri, Robnett and another reporter, Katie Akin, all disputed that version of events.

    “I put up my hands and I say ‘I’m press’ because he was coming like, right at me, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to run from officers,” Sahouri testified. “He grabbed me, he pepper-sprayed me and said, ‘That’s not what I asked.’”

    I’ve seen the old movies. You have to be wearing a fedora or a pork-pie hat with a card in it that says “PRESS” in order to be officially recognized as an agent of the press by law enforcement. Nice try Ms. Sahouri and Mr. Robnett, but you didn’t hold up your end of the bargain.

    In a more serious vein, this also happened out here in Los Angeles when a reporter was arrested for failing to obey and order to disperse. Frankly there is so little daylight these days between activists and reporters that these problems are likely to continue. It’s easy for some left-wing blogger to half-cover and half-participate in a protest, then claim the right to full media accommodations when challenged by law enforcement. Aren’t some of the January 6 Capitol rioters claiming that they were simply reporters for various pro-Trump outlets and blogs?

    JVW (ee64e4)

  14. This looks like an unfortunate level of permission to commit vehicular homicide. How do they prove someone wasn’t afraid? It also seems likely to have freedom to assemble problems.

    Well, these days virtually all of these events are being filmed by somebody or other, so in most cases I imagine there will be video which will give us some idea of how the crowd behaved and how the driver behaved. But sure, a jury will have to determine if the motorist had a reasonable fear. It sounds like what the Oklahoma bill does is tip the scales a bit, warning the mob that the motorist has a right to flee and that they accept the risks and bear the blame if they try to abridge it.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  15. I think if an individual is angry enough and determined to harm others protesting, they will do it, with or without this law. They can just lie about what happened and claim that they were afraid for their lives. I was reading about how many people were hit by cars during last summer’s protests, and was surprised by the numbers:

    There have been at least 104 incidents of people driving vehicles into protests from May 27 through Sept. 5, including 96 by civilians and eight by police, according to Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats who spoke with USA TODAY this summer…There have been at least two fatalities, in Seattle and in Bakersfield, California…Weil said that by analyzing news coverage, court documents and patterns of behavior – such as when people allegedly yelled slurs at protesters or turned around for a second hit – he determined that at least 43 of the incidents were malicious, and 39 drivers have been charged.

    Dana (fd537d)


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