Oklahoma legislators approved a motion this week to censure Democratic state Rep. Mauree Turner for impeding an investigation into an alleged assault on a law enforcement official and a GOP lawmaker.
The incident stemmed from protests against a bill that passed in the Republican-led House of Representatives last month that aimed to prevent transgender surgeries and other treatments from being performed on minors in the state.
While supporters say the measure is a commonsense way to protect young people from life-altering procedures they might regret in adulthood, a number of transgender activists took offense and staged a disruptive protest.
Republican Rep. Ed Culver was reportedly doused with liquid by demonstrators and, when a Highway Patrol trooper attempted to intervene, he was similarly splashed with fluid. Culver later asserted that he “would not have given it a second thought” if the activists had not interfered with the trooper’s ability to do his job.
“Taking all of that into consideration, I have decided to press charges against the individual who assaulted me and the patrolman and will cooperate fully with the law enforcement investigation,” he added.
Turner, who self-identifies as the first non-binary Muslim lawmaker elected in the United States, reportedly offered refuge to Austin Ross, one of the activists wanted in connection with the disruption.
Although Ross was not accused of throwing liquid on the lawmaker or trooper, authorities say he grabbed the trooper’s hand in an effort to prevent the other protester’s arrest.
By an overwhelming margin on Tuesday, legislators voted to censure Turner for harboring a fugitive and rejecting “multiple requests by law enforcement to question the individual.”
HAPPENING NOW: House leadership says they are censuring State Rep. Mauree Turner for hiding a fugitive that was wanted for questioning about an alleged assault of a lawmaker last week.
— Andy Weber (@AndyWKOCO) March 7, 2023
As GOP House Speaker Charles McCall asserted: “This member knowingly and willfully impeded a law enforcement investigation, harboring a fugitive and repeatedly lying to officers, and used their official office and position to thwart attempts by law enforcement to make contact with a suspect of the investigation.”
Insisting that he “will not allow members of the House of Representatives to use their House-assigned offices and official positions to impede law enforcement officers carrying out investigations or making arrests in the State Capitol,” McCall concluded that Turner’s behavior was “inappropriate and potentially criminal.”
Although lawmakers indicated that Turner’s committee assignments would be restored after a public apology, the censured lawmaker refused, replying: “I think an apology for loving the people of Oklahoma is something that I cannot do. It’s something that I actively refuse to do.”