Lawsuits challenge Oklahoma anti-protest law; riot charges

Jun 24, 2022, 10:04 AM | Updated: 11:05 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Six Oklahomans have filed two federal lawsuits that challenge a state law intended to crack down on protesters and that allege their civil rights were violated when they were arrested in Oklahoma City in 2020.

The anti-protest law is unconstitutionally broad and vague, according to one of the lawsuits filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City on behalf of Sincere Terry, Mia Hogsett, Tyreke Baker, Preston Nabors, Trevour Webb and Austin Mack by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It sweeps far beyond the very limited and narrow true threats exception to the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, thereby subjecting non-violent protesters to criminal liability for exercising their constitutionally protected rights to speech and assembly,” according to the lawsuit that names state Attorney General John O’Connor and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.

O’Connor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Prater, who is named in both lawsuits, said he has not been served with either legal action.

“We will make the appropriate filings in federal court when we are served,” Prater said.

The law was passed in 2021 to crack down on protesters by increasing penalties for blocking roadways and granting immunity to motorists who kill or injure rioters. It was among a series of GOP-backed proposals across the country aimed at cracking down on protesters.

Supporters said it was prompted mostly as a result of a pickup truck being driven through a crowd gathered on a Tulsa interstate in 2020 while protesting the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Several people were injured, including one who was paralyzed from the waist down after falling from an overpass.

The driver was not charged after the district attorney said people in the crowd had been throwing things at the vehicle.

The second lawsuit alleges that Prater, the city of Oklahoma City and its police department violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights following a confrontation with a police officer while protesters were painting a mural on the street outside of the department’s headquarters.

“Plaintiffs seek … an order mandating Defendants to refrain from targeting and harassing racial justice protesters, so that Plaintiffs and others have freedom to engage in the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution,” according to the lawsuit.

Five of the six were charged with inciting a riot and later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer.

An inciting a riot charge was initially sought against the sixth, Mack, but was dropped after it was determined he was not present at the confrontation. Mack alleges it was unreasonable and racially discriminatory to seek a warrant for his arrest.

City spokesperson Kristy Yager declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Both lawsuits seek unspecified “nominal” amounts in damages plus attorney fees, costs, and expenses.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

9 injured in shooting near beach in Hollywood, Florida

Police are responding to a shooting near the beach broadwalk in Hollywood, Florida.

1 day ago

Crew members assemble the main stage ahead of the 2023 Scripps Nations Spelling Bee on Sunday, May ...

Associated Press

Exclusive secrets of the National Spelling Bee: Picking the words to identify a champion

As the final pre-competition meeting of the Scripps National Spelling Bee's word selection panel stretches into its seventh hour, the pronouncers no longer seem to care.

1 day ago

FILE - Gabby Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt, wipes a tear from her face during a news conference o...

Associated Press

Mother of man who killed Gabby Petito said in letter she would help son ‘dispose of a body’

The mother of the man who killed Gabby Petito told her son in an undated letter that she would “dispose of a body” if needed because she loved him so much, according to copies of the note shared publicly for the first time this week by attorneys for Petito's parents.

4 days ago

A member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, places flags in front of e...

Associated Press

5 things to know about Memorial Day including its controversies

Memorial Day is supposed to be about mourning the nation’s fallen service members, but it’s come to anchor the unofficial start of summer and a long weekend of discounts on anything from mattresses to lawn mowers.

4 days ago

FILE - This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he test...

Associated Press

Officers describe chaos, fear on Jan. 6 as judge weighs prison time for Oath Keepers’ Rhodes

Police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and public servants who fled the mob's attack told a judge on Wednesday that they are still haunted by what they endured, as the judge prepares to hand down sentences in a landmark Capitol riot case.

5 days ago

Pride month merchandise is displayed at the front of a Target store in Hackensack, N.J., Wednesday,...

Associated Press

Target on the defensive after removing LGBTQ+-themed products

Target once distinguished itself as being boldly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles



Thank you to Al McCoy for 51 years as voice of the Phoenix Suns

Sanderson Ford wants to share its thanks to Al McCoy for the impact he made in the Valley for more than a half-decade.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Lawsuits challenge Oklahoma anti-protest law; riot charges