ACLU and Tribes Fighting Anti-Protest Bills in the Legislature


Environmental groups, Native Americans and the American Civil Liberties Union are calling two Oklahoma House bills “un-American” for targeting protesters similar to those who tried to block construction of the Dakota Access Oil pipeline in North Dakota.

“They serve one purpose—-to chill those who might speak out in an act of free speech or an act of civil resistance,” charged Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the ACLU during a Wednesday morning news conference at the State Capitol. He was referring to House Bills 1123 and 2128.

“The penalties contained in these measures are draconian to say the lease and they serve one purpose—to chill those who might speak out,” added Keisel as he was joined by representatives of the Sierra Club, Bold Oklahoma and No Plains Pipeline.

“It is a direct attack, a direct assault on Oklahomans who want to stand up for Oklahoma citizens,” charged Ashley McCray, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi tribe and a member of No Plains Pipeline. The group is fighting the construction of the Diamond Pipeline that will carry oil from Cushing to Memphis, Tennessee.

“Threatening me with jail or threatening me with fines is not gonna deter me from doing what’s right in standing up for my children, my grandchildren and the future generations of my people,” argued Mekasi Camp Horinek with Bold Oklahoma.

House Bill 1123, by Rep. Scott Biggs of Chickasha and Sen. Bryce Marlatt of Woodward has already been approved by the House on a 70-24 vote in late February. It was sent to the Senate. So was House Bill 2128 by Rep. Mark McBride of Norman and Sen. A.J. Griffin of Guthrie. It was passed on a 68-23 vote and sent to the Senate.

As OK Energy Today reported in February, HB 1123 carries a $100,000 fine and 10 years in prison for trespassing against “critical infrastructure.” HB 2128 is similar.