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Activists seeking to overturn law fall short of signatures

August 25, 2021 GMT
Michelle Tilley of No on SQ816 petition campaign talks outside the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Tilley said that her group would not be delivering petitions as planned for an attempt to overturn a recently enacted Oklahoma law that grants civil and criminal immunity to motorists fleeing a riot who run over people with their vehicles, due to lack of confidence that they had enough signatures. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Michelle Tilley of No on SQ816 petition campaign talks outside the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Tilley said that her group would not be delivering petitions as planned for an attempt to overturn a recently enacted Oklahoma law that grants civil and criminal immunity to motorists fleeing a riot who run over people with their vehicles, due to lack of confidence that they had enough signatures. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
1 of 2
Michelle Tilley of No on SQ816 petition campaign talks outside the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Tilley said that her group would not be delivering petitions as planned for an attempt to overturn a recently enacted Oklahoma law that grants civil and criminal immunity to motorists fleeing a riot who run over people with their vehicles, due to lack of confidence that they had enough signatures. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Activists seeking to overturn a new anti-protest law passed by the Republican-led Oklahoma Legislature said Wednesday they have fallen short of the required number of signatures to qualify the measure for a statewide vote.

Democratic activist Joshua Harris-Till said the group was a few thousand signatures short of the nearly 60,000 they would have needed to advance the referendum. Wednesday was the deadline for the group to submit the signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office for counting.

Harris-Till said the group is considering launching an initiative petition to place the question before voters.

The new law, which takes effect Nov. 1, makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for anyone who blocks the use of a public street. The measure would also grant a motorist criminal and civil immunity if they kill or injure someone while fleeing from a riot.

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Blocking roadways is a longtime tactic of nonviolent protesters dating back to even before the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Supporters of the bill say 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. 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 truck, was not charged.

The measure is one of a series of GOP-backed proposals that would increase criminal penalties for activities associated with protests last year over racial injustice and police brutality.