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Oklahoma took a stand for law and order as arrested violent protesters are being charged with terrorism for their part in Oklahoma City demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater announced the tough charges of terrorism, rioting and assault against the protesters who took part in violent actions during the May 30 demonstrations, referring to the “lawlessness” evident on other parts of the country, notable the autonomous zone of Seattle known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protests, or CHOP.
“This is not Seattle,” Prater said, according to The Oklahoman. “We’re not putting up with this lawlessness here.”
Three men arrested and facing terrorism charges are Isael Antonio Ortiz, 21, Eric Christopher Ruffin, 26, and Malachai Davis, 18.
A Facebook video from the violent demonstrations showed Davis, who is accused of damaging the bail bonds office ans was allegedly wearing brass knuckles. His attorney, David McKenzie, pointed out that Davis, whose father died in the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11, struck the window of the office but did not break it and should not face terrorism charges, the Oklahoman reported.
Ortiz is charged with allegedly burning an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office van during the May 30 protests and also attempting to burn the bail bonds office “along with a large crowd of other individuals.” Already on probation after a 2019 guilty plea to endangering others while eluding police, Ortiz is also facing a 2019 drive-by shooting charge and, if convicted on the latest charges, could be sentenced to life in prison.
Police reported that Ruffin encouraged the “wanton destruction” as he streamed the actions on Facebook Live where he was allegedly heard saying that anyone who killed black people needs to die and “that’s what happens when you got numbers outside.”
Video from KOCO-TV at the time showed how protests turned violent and how the police responded decisively to disperse crowds and restore order.
Others arrested on rioting charges were Deshayla Dixon, 24, Adam Warner Hayhurst, 19, Daniel Ray Dickerson, 27, and James Lovell Holt, 31. Many of those arrested were identified after being caught on camera, such as Holt, who was seen in video throwing rocks at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
Saxon Weber, 26, of Oklahoma City, was arrested and charged with assault and battery upon a police officer. Police reported that Weber was armed with a pistol and wearing a bullet-proof vest when he shoved an officer while he was trying to arrest another protester.
Five others who were arrested have been charged with incitement of a riot. Police reported that during the May 30 protests over the death of Floyd in Minneapolis, agitators affiliated with antifa or other far-left groups continued to incite the crowd.
“Several people were carrying flags that were identified as belonging to the following groups: Antifa, Soviet Union (communism), American Indian Movement, Anarcho-Communism (solid red) and the original Oklahoma flag … currently adopted by Oklahoma Socialists,” police noted in court affidavits. “Several known supporters of anti-establishment organizations were present in the crowd.”
The ACLU of Oklahoma slammed Prater for politically motivated and excessive charges. The organization criticized the district attorney the day after the charges were announced, claiming “urgent use of the harshest possible charges to retaliate against protesters is part of the broader injustice and systemic racism we join Black leaders on the ground in condemning.”
“We continue to join with our partners in the community in following the lead of Black Lives Matter OKC in asking that all charges against protesters be dropped. And (we) encourage people to contact their elected District Attorney David Prater … to join in that ask,” the ACLU stated.
The Oklahoma group’s interim legal director blasted the terrorism charges as “nothing short of an abuse of power.”
“The charging decisions are inflammatory at best, and, at worst, deliberately unconstitutional,” Michael Redman said, according to The Oklahoman. “It is an unsubtle attempt to stifle free speech by overcharging individuals with anti-terrorism conduct and the implicit threat that, you too, can face serious anti-terrorism charges simply by being present during a protest.
Prater fired back in a statement, accusing the ACLU of choosing “to defend criminals who are violent, exploitive and unscrupulous.”
“These criminals have subverted peaceful protests and impaired the open discussion regarding race in our country,” he said.
“When you act like a terrorist, you will be treated like a terrorist. All innocent citizens of Oklahoma County deserve to be protected. The citizens of Oklahoma County have a legal and constitutional right to personal safety and the protection of their property. It is my job to protect innocent citizens and their property and I will continue to do it to the best of my ability,” he said.