Two and a half months after Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a felony trespassing bill, one that environmentalists called an anti-protest measure, the new law has yet to be used against anyone.
Rep. Scott Biggs (R-Chickasha) authored HB 1123 and tells OK Energy Today there has not been a legal challenge to the new law.
“It hasn’t been challenged yet in the Supreme Court. To my knowledge, it took effect when the governor signed it and no one has challenged it at this time,” said Biggs. “Maybe some day it’ll be used to protect the state of Oklahoma.”
Governor Fallin signed the measure in May and the law took effect July 1. Rep. Biggs still maintains the law was not created against protesters such as those who fought the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.
“This bill is strictly about protecting critical infrastructure in Oklahoma. Our power grids. Our transportation. Our water treatment plants. Places where people probably shouldn’t be in the first place,” he explained. “They’re simply saying this was a protest bill. I was trying to stop protesters. Trying to force oil down everybody’s throat. That’s simply not the case.”
But enough people were angry over the bill when it was introduced in the legislature. It resulted in hate mail and death threats to Biggs.
“Oh, I have received a ton of hate mail. Numerous death threats. People just simply believed what they read online somewhere—that was the truth and they acted how they felt was appropriate,” he said. “I had letters. Emails. I had postcards sent to my home.”
How many death threats?
“You’d have to contact the OSBI. They kept the file,” answered Biggs who said there were no death threats by phone. “I didn’t fear for myself or my family. It was one of those things. People were upset because they read something online that wasn’t true.”
But environmental groups, Native Americans and the American Civil Liberties Union felt otherwise and at the time of the consideration in the legislature called the Biggs bill “un-American” as reported by OK Energy Today.
“They serve one purpose—to chill those who might speak out in an act of free speech or an act of civil resistance,” said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the ACLU during a news conference when the bill was introduced. “The penalties contained in these measures are draconian to say the least and they serve one purpose—to chill those who might speak out.”
The bill angered members of No Plains Pipeline who are fighting construction of the Diamond Pipeline that will carry oil from the Cushing tank farm 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,” said Mekasi Camp Horinek of Bold Oklahoma.
Those caught trespassing and charged could face up to a $100,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
Listen to Jerry Bohnen’s interview of Rep. Scott Biggs.