Oklahoma County’s chief prosecutor, David Prater, threw the book recently at more than a dozen protesters arrested during late spring’s racial justice demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
By invoking the Oklahoma Anti-Terrorism Act and charging five protesters with terrorism [three in late June and two last week], Prater was able to secure outrageously high bail and ensure those arrested face harsher sentences if convicted.
To Black Lives Matter leaders and civil liberties advocates, the charges reflected the very systemic racism fueling street protests worldwide and a willingness to wield state power to crush any public dissent that challenges the police and prosecutor status quo.
In addition, Prater’s charging decisions were made against the backdrop of a nasty backlash against two Oklahoma City Council members working to check police power: Anonymous commenters posted racial slurs against Nikki Nice during a virtual City Council meeting and the Fraternal Order of Police posted inflammatory messages on social media against JoBeth Hamon.
In this week’s Observercast – Episode 26: The Sun Shining And The Stars All Aflame – we visited with the ACLU of Oklahoma’s Nicole McAfee to learn more about the implications of these charges against anti-police violence protestors and their connection to larger conversations about racial injustice and our criminal justice system.