Oklahoma lawmakers are facing more than two dozen protesters

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More than two dozen angry protesters swarmed the Oklahoma House of Representatives during a session on Wednesday to demonstrate against various bills targeting protesters and trans girls.

The House and Senate were forced to lock their rooms when the protesters entered the Capitol’s gallery on the fifth floor while lawmakers gathered.

Video shows the group chanting ‘no justice no peace’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’. But others berated lawmakers, shouting ‘you’re an f-king shame on the whole country!’

One of the bills against which the group came to protest was a Republican-backed anti-protest law that would protect motorists who attack protesters with their cars if they are caught in a ‘riot’.

More than two dozen protesters swarmed during a session in the Oklahoma House chamber on Wednesday to demonstrate against several bills passed through the House and Senate

More than two dozen protesters swarmed during a session in the Oklahoma House chamber on Wednesday to demonstrate against several bills passed through the House and Senate

Among the bills against which the group appeared to demonstrate was a Republican-backed anti-protest law passed last week

Among the bills against which the group appeared to demonstrate was a Republican-backed anti-protest law passed last week

Video of the scene showed the protesters entering the Capitol's gallery on the fifth floor as lawmakers gathered.  In the clip, the group was heard singing 'no justice no peace' and 'Black Lives Matter'

Video of the scene showed the protesters entering the Capitol’s gallery on the fifth floor as lawmakers gathered. In the clip, the group was heard singing ‘no justice no peace’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’

The anti-protest law aims to crack down on protests by increasing penalties for blocking roads and granting immunity to motorists who kill or injure rioters. Last week, the senate voted 38 to 10, mostly along party lines, for the bill now going to the governor’s office.

The measure is part of a series of GOP-backed proposals that would increase criminal sanctions for activities related to last summer’s protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

The bill would make it a felony, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $ 5,000 fine for anyone blocking the use of a public street. The measure would also grant a motorist criminal and civil immunity if he kills or injures someone while on the run from a riot.

Blocking roads is an old tactic of nonviolent protesters that dates back to even before the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Sen. Rob Standridge, a Republican from Norman who wrote the bill, said it was mainly caused by an incident in Tulsa last summer in which a pickup truck drove through a crowd gathered on a Tulsa highway while protesting the death. from George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Several people were injured, including one who was paralyzed from the waist down after falling from an overpass, but the driver, whose family was in the car, was not charged.

“The kids were huddled in the backseat fearing for their lives,” Standridge said. “That’s what this bill is about.”

The group protested a bill aimed at tackling protests (file image) by increasing penalties for road blocking

The group protested a bill aimed at addressing the protests (image of the file) by increasing penalties for blocking roads

Sen. Kevin Matthews, a Democrat from Tulsa and the chair of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, said he was particularly concerned with seeing legislation against protesters, but not the underlying issues of police brutality and systemic racism.

“ In my community, people were bombed from the air, people were shot with cannons in our churches, 300 people were reportedly killed and businesses burned to the ground, ” Matthews said, referring to the 1921 attack by a white mob on the city’s black community. . “And it was said that my people revolted when it wasn’t true.”

Other bills the group protested against included anti-abortion laws and Senate Law 2, which would prohibit transgender girls from joining girls’ sports teams.

Oklahoma is one of more than a dozen states where lawmakers are proposing restrictions on athletics or gender-affirming health care for trans minors this year.

Oklahoma’s governing body for high school athletics, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association both have policies regarding the participation of transgender athletes in sports.

Both require male to female athletes to undergo testosterone suppression treatment in order to compete in the female sports.

Opponents of the Oklahoma bill have raised concerns that its passage could cause the NCAA to move its College Softball World Series, which is held every year in Oklahoma City and is expected to generate more than $ 20 million in revenue for the city. to generate.

In a statement earlier this week, the NCAA Board of Directors said it “resolutely and unequivocally supports the ability for transgender student athletes to compete in college sports” and suggested the possibility of events being moved.

“ In determining where championships are held, NCAA policy specifies that only venues should be selected where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free from discrimination, ” the statement said.

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