5 arrested at Oklahoma Capitol building protest

SEAN MURPHY Associated Press

November 6, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Troopers arrested five protesters at the Oklahoma Capitol building Tuesday after they toppled several barricades and attempted to run away, authorities said.

The woman and four men were arrested on complaints of destruction of state property, obstruction and violating the group’s protest permit, and booked at the Oklahoma County Jail, said Highway Patrol Maj. Rusty Rhoades, who oversees operations at the state Capitol complex. Their names were not immediately released.

Rhoades said about 35 protesters showed up at the Capitol Tuesday morning as part of the Million Mask March, a national movement involving computer hackers and whistleblowers protesting political corruption. Many of the protesters were wearing white Guy Fawkes masks for the British rebel who attempted to blow up the House of Lords in 1605. One was cited for refusing to take off his mask as he went through Capitol security, Rhoades said.

Most of the protesters were respectful and didn’t cause problems, but five were arrested at the end of the protest when they toppled several barricades on the south steps of the Capitol and then ran away, Rhoades said.

“We didn’t want to have to arrest anybody,” Rhoades said. “We respect the ability and right of people to come out here and have their meetings.

“There was just one small group that put us in that situation.”

One of the protesters — 34-year-old Michael Nicholas of Oklahoma City — said he didn’t believe the individuals who were arrested were part of the cause.

“These were not people associated with the organizing of the event,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas and Crystal Peterson, 30, one of the protest’s co-organizers, said the purpose of the event was to voice displeasure with what they believe is corruption in government and the chipping away of the individual civil liberties of Americans.

“We’re not a bunch of hippies,” said Peterson, a mother of four from Noble. “We’re concerned citizens, people from all walks of life.

“We want to see a change, and we want to let people know they can stand up and push for that change.”