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Saturday, the Oklahoma American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) leveled blistering criticism of Oklahoma County’s long-term District Attorney David Prater for charging some protesters under Oklahoma’s anti-terrorism laws.

“Oklahoma County District Attorney Prater’s invocation of the Oklahoma Anti-Terrorism Act against persons protesting the death of George Floyd is nothing short of an abuse of power,” said Michael Redmon, interim legal director for ACLU – Oklahoma. “The charging decisions are inflammatory at best, and, at worst, deliberately unconstitutional.”

“Prater is using the hammer of his office to intimidate people into not exercising their Constitutional rights while demanding justice and racial equality,” said Redmon in the statement.

Charges

According to a report from The Oklahoman late Friday, Prater has charged people involved in protests the evening of Saturday, May 30, Sunday, May 31, and a recent circumstance in front of police headquarters Tuesday.

The paper reported that three individuals were charged with “terrorism” in the vandalizing of businesses close to the Oklahoma County Jail and setting fire to a Sheriff’s van.

Four were charged with rioting on Sunday evening, May 31 the report read.

One protester was charged with assault and battery upon a police officer who was trying to arrest a protester at 23rd and Classen on Saturday, May 30 said the report.

And, also in the report, five were charged with incitement to riot over the incident Tuesday in front of and in the doorway into the police headquarters.

Mixed actions of protesters

Out of hundreds of protesters who started the first evening of Saturday, May 30 occupying the intersection of N.W. 23rd and Classen and then moving to the Oklahoma City Police Headquarters downtown, a segment of the crowd of hundreds vandalized CJ’s Bail Bonds on Classen and then a row of small bail bond and law offices across from the Oklahoma County Jail.

The Sheriff’s office also say some in the crowd set fire to an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s van that had been parked in a broken auto gate to the employee parking lot.

protests
Sheriff’s van burned in the west employee parking lot gate of the Oklahoma County Jail Saturday, May 30. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

On Saturday, May 31, the early protesters to start blocking traffic were quickly arrested by about ten to 15 OKCPD officers.

Free Press observed that the crowd became noticeably more agitated and animated by what they perceived to be rough, aggressive arrests of the protesters who were blocking the intersection.

The crowd of hundreds marched to N.W. 16th, then through the Plaza District to Penn, north to N.W. 23rd and then back to N.W. 23rd and Classen.

After a time occupying the intersection again, protesters marched down Classen to a spot in front of the OKCPD Headquaters at Couch Drive and N. Shartel Avenue.

This reporter observed about 1/2 to 2/3 of the protesters leaving when the police started using tear gas on the protesters.

Earlier in the day on May 31, Black Lives Matter had held a peaceful protest at N.E. 36th and N. Kelley in Oklahoma City and then protesters peacefully marched to the Capitol at NE 23rd and Lincoln where more speeches were given.

Protest at the Oklahoma State Capitol Sunday, May 31. This crowd marched from N.W. 23rd and N. Kelley where Black Lives Matter – OKC had held a peaceful protest. (file photo, BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

But, that night of Sunday, May 31, BLM leader Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson made a Facebook live video on her way to the police headquarters to try and intervene in protests there that were becoming increasingly agitated.

At several points in the video, Dickerson disavows the actions that night saying clearly that BLM did not plan any protests at the police headquarters that night.

But, she also said that she could understand the outrage and rage that some may feel at the moment.

“I do hope our public officials are listening to the outrage in the state and in the city,” Dickerson said in the livestream.

In fact, while the first night’s protests were announced in a flyer ahead of time as a “Black Lives Matter” event, Dickerson earlier in the day May 31 said she did not know where the flyer came from or who organized the protest. She did come to the protest in an attempt to keep it peaceful that night, too.

Free Press will continue to follow these developments as we gain new information.


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