New law in US state of Oklahoma protects drivers who hit protestors

New law in US state of Oklahoma protects drivers who hit protestors
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Drivers will now be protected by law if they hit protestors while fleeing a riot in Oklahoma. 

This law change comes less than a year after several people were injured after a woman driving a BMW plowed into a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators in New York City. 

People drove their vehicles into protests more than 100 times in the US in 2020 leaving at least two protesters dead, USA Today reported

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Sitt signed the bill, which protects drivers who unintentionally injure or kill demonstrators while fleeing a riot, according to The Oklahoman

The signing of House Bill 1674 also means obstruction of a public road or highway will now constitute as a misdemeanor, the newspaper reported. 

Blocking a public street, highway or road could put people in prison for up to a year or cost up to US$5000 in fees, The Guardian reported. 

The bill was signed even after advocates criticised officials for weakening democracy. 

The bill's author, Kevin West claimed that in 2020, voters expressed concerns with him about the rising protests around the United States and were worried demonstrations would also happen in Oklahoma, The Oklahoman reported. 

"We had scenarios where motorists were simply trying to extricate themselves or their families or passengers from those very volatile and dangerous situations and yet were barred from doing so and later chastised for trying to harm people blocking their escape routes," Fox-affiliated television station KOKH reported. 

A Oklahoma non-profit organisation founder, Adriana Laws told The Oklahoman that the state legislature had launched an attack on Oklahoman tax-payers. 

"They are targeting groups of protestors who are just wanting to use their freedom of speech, passing bills that will intimidate them in the hopes of keeping people from using their First Amendment rights, passing bills that decriminalise the murder of protestor, which is absolutely insane," an Oklahoma non-profit organisation founder, Adriana Laws told the newspaper. 

The bill takes effect in early November.