Activists Begin Gathering Signatures To Challenge Controversial State Law

Monday, August 23rd 2021, 5:19 pm

Activists are hoping to challenge a controversial new law that prevents “rioters” from blocking traffic.

House Bill 1674 also gives immunity to drivers who injure or kill someone if they fear for their lives.

Now, a group is trying gather signatures for a new state question.

"What's more important? Someone's vehicle or a human life," said local activist and musician Jabee Williams.

Right now, HB 1674 will go into effect this November.

Williams said he feels like the new law invites people to harm protesters.

"Whenever you come in and create a bill like this, that not only makes it legal but invites people to come do that, is real dangerous," said Williams.

The group "Vote No to SQ 816" is hoping to gather 100,000 signatures by Wednesday, well over the close to 60,000 needed to get the question on the ballot in November 2022.

"We're hitting the streets everyday, trying to be at events and everything," said Williams.

If people want to sign the petition, they have to be in person.

"We're everywhere with petitions," said Williams. "Anytime you see me at events, there are a few of us at events. You can go to Tower Theatre, you can go to Nappy Roots."

Oklahoma state Rep. Kevin West, who authored the bill, sent News 9 the following statement:

"House Bill 1674 protects innocent motorists who find themselves caught in the middle of a violent riot and who fear for their lives. I am a strong supporter of the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, but I am not a supporter of endangering the lives of others and destroying property during a violent riot. Oklahoma law allows the petitioners to try and get a state question on the ballot, and if it gets there, the people of Oklahoma will be able to make their voices heard on the legislation.”

Williams said he’s fighting for peaceful protests and no matter what he will keep pushing forward. The local activist is hoping people can do research and read the new law.

"Read it thoroughly," said Williams. "Do research on the statistics of protests and rallies in Oklahoma and marches here."

Click here to view the full text of HB 1674.

Click here for more information on the petition and SQ 816.

Click here to view the State Question 816 language.