Anti-protest legislation gets pushed by Republicans in Oklahoma, Florida, other states

People attend a protest during nationwide unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., May 31, 2020. Photo by REUTERS/Nick Oxford

There’s a wave of bills in red states designed to limit protests. Last week, Oklahoma’s Republican governor signed a bill that would give civil and criminal immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters. 

In Tulsa during last summer’s protests over the murder of George Floyd, a man drove a truck and horse trailer through a crowd of demonstrators on an interstate highway. A local news crew caught the scene on video. The driver said he sped up because he feared for his family’s safety. Several people were injured, one person was paralyzed after falling from an overpass, and the driver was not charged at the time.

In Florida, governor Ron DeSantis signed broad “anti-riot” legislation that would similarly clear drivers of civil penalties. Iowa passed a similar bill.

Indiana has a bill that would prevent someone from holding a state job if they were convicted of unlawful assembly. 

Minnesota, where George Floyd was murdered, would prohibit people from receiving student loans, unemployment benefits, and housing assistance if they were convicted of unlawfully protesting.

In a freedom of speech case, a Pennsylvania teenager tried out for high school varsity cheer in 2017 but was assigned to junior varsity instead, then posted a SnapChat message that was critical of the school and cheerleading. Coaches saw it and suspended her for a year. Then her father sued, with the help of the ACLU, and the case has dragged on so long the cheerleader isn’t even in high school anymore. 

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