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A bill criminalizing certain acts by peaceful protestors at the Oklahoma State Capitol has passed the state House of Representatives. HB 1822, a reaction to the teacher walkout of 2018 and the protests of last summer, passed with the support of all Republican representatives.
If the bill becomes law, it would make some acts by protestors at the Capitol a misdemeanor. Those protestors could then face up to a year in prison and a $500 fine.
According to the text of the bill, prohibited acts would include:
- Placing protest signs on a tree or another structure.
- Groups of people obstructing a sidewalk or walkway.
- Any accumulation of trash.
- Setting up a tent or sleeping bag.
- Using audio devices or musical equipment at a ‘disturbing’ noise level.
The bill’s language also prohibits acts of violence. As a result, a peaceful protest involving people blocking a sidewalk could face the same consequences as someone who “throws stones, bottles or other objects with the intent to injure another person”.
Several similar bills criminalizing acts of peaceful protest on public property are rapidly moving through the state legislature. They include bills that would punish people who post images of police officers on social media. Another would punish protesters who block traffic while protecting the drivers who hit them, among other restrictive bills.
The Black Wall Street Times will track and monitor these bills as they move through the legislature. HB 1822 now heads to the state Senate for consideration.
Anyone wishing to learn more about the bills can click here to view a tracker from the International Center for Non-Profit Law. To find the contact information for an Oklahoma state legislator, click here.