Oklahoma bill lays down stiff punishment for protesting on certain state lands

May 4, 2017

Credit Avery White / Oceti Sakowin Camp / Creative Commons

A bill is making its way through the Oklahoma Legislature that would result in stiff penalties for some activists who protest on state land.

As StateImpact Oklahoma reports, House Bill 1123 would outlaw trespassing on what the legislation calls “critical infrastructure,” a blanket term that includes dams, water treatment and chemical plants, to oil and gas hubs, petroleum refineries and storage facilities.

The bill’s proponents claim the measure is simply an effort to prevent damage to these state holdings.

But critics say the bill is a reaction to various nationwide protests, including those protesting an oil pipeline in North Dakota.

In fact, the bill’s author, Scott Biggs, Republican of Chickasha, essentially said that was the point of the bill.

“We’ve seen time and time again [. . .] these protests that have disrupted the infrastructure in those other states,” he said. “This is a preventative measure . . . to make sure that doesn’t happen here