Nine months later, the state legislature passed a law granting drivers criminal and civil immunity if they “unintentionally” hit or kill a protester while “fleeing from a riot,” so long as they say it was necessary to protect themselves, citing the protest on I-244 as the catalyst for the law.
You read that right. Given the choice between defending the safety of pedestrians protesting a police murder and the drivers of the vehicles running them down, prosecutors and lawmakers here have reserved their concern for the drivers.
To those on the short end of this cold calculus, it feels like siding, during the 1960s civil rights protests, with Bull Connor’s firehoses over the Black children of Birmingham. Or with the cops with clubs over the brave, battered souls who traversed Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.
A Globe review of the recent incidents found there have been scores of people hit, dozens of injuries, at least three deaths, but precious little justice, much less sympathy, for the demonstrators injured, killed, or just plain terrified. Yet Oklahoma and 15 other states have considered bills protecting drivers, not protesters, as these ramming incidents have proliferated.
“More men died of police violence than of testicular cancer, or lymphoma, or STDs in the U.S. in 2019. Depending on where you get your information, that could come as a surprise, or a grave confirmation.” CityLab: Police Violence Deaths Are Twice As High As Official U.S. Count, Study Finds.
A new study published in The Lancet found that a government-run database has undercounted the number of deaths at the hands of police in the U.S. by more than half.
That’s unacceptable, said Fablina Sharara, one of the lead authors of the report and a researcher for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “We rely on official statistics for every other cause of death: for cancer, for example, or homicide,” she said. “From our perspective, it’s important for the official statistics to be accurate for every cause.”