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Oklahoma passes bill providing protections for drivers who hit protesters blocking roads

"Rioters who threaten law-abiding citizens' safety will not be tolerated," Gov. Stitt said of the bill.

Updated: April 22, 2021 - 5:44pm

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Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed a law to protect motorists who unintentionally hit protesters while trying to escape to safety in a demonstration.

"We are sending a message today in Oklahoma that rioters who threaten law abiding citizens' safety will not be tolerated," Stitt said Wednesday upon signing the bill. "I remain unequivocally committed to protecting every Oklahoman's First Amendment right to peacefully protest as well as their right to feel safe in their community."

The state Senate last week passed the bill in a 38-10 vote, according to ABC-TV affiliate KAKE. The law also makes it a misdemeanor for blocking a public street during protests. Violators face a maximum one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The law stipulates that if drivers fear for their lives, they will not be held criminally or civilly liable for damages or accidentally killing a protester with their car as they flee the protest.