Oklahoma Republicans advance bill giving legal immunity to people who run over civil rights protesters
A Black Lives Matter demonstrator (Shuttershock)

This week, the Oklahoma Senate passed a controversial bill that would effectively immunize drivers who hit people protesting in the road in certain circumstances — even if the protesters are injured or killed.

"The bill would make it misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for anyone who blocks the use of a public street," reported KOCO. "The measure would also grant a motorist criminal and civil immunity if they kill or injure someone while fleeing from a riot."

"Sen. Rob Standridge, a Republican from Norman who wrote the bill, said it was prompted mostly by an incident in Tulsa last summer in which a pickup truck drove through a crowd gathered on a Tulsa interstate while protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis," said the report. "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 bill now heads to Gov. Kevin Stitt for signing.

"What about all the ways this bill could go wrong?" noted Zack Linly for The Root on Thursday. "What if during a chaotic protest, a participant ends up blocking a street unknowingly or by accident? That's worth taking their freedom away for up to a year? What if motorists take this new law to mean that it's open season on protesters once they get behind the wheel?"

In recent years, often in response to Black Lives Matter protests, Republicans in several states have proposed "run over protesters" bills, including in Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.