OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Representative Mauree Turner, D-OKC, was censured Tuesday for keeping a protester in their office while state troopers were investigating a physical altercation, which lead to an arrest.
The incident took place February 28 when a trans-rights protester dumped water on a lawmaker. When a state trooper intervened to escort the protester out of the building, the person threw water back at the trooper. A physical scuffle took place where a second protester tried to step in, appearing to put hands on the first protester not the trooper.
That second activist was later identified as Austin Ross.
Ross left the scene and went to Representative Mauree Turner’s office.
An OHP spokesperson said troopers were outside Turner’s office trying to speak with Ross, but the door would not open.
Eventually, troopers were able to speak with Ross but no arrest was made.
Almost a week later, on March 6, Ross was arrested on assault and battery on a police officer, stemming from the Feb. 28 incident.
Tuesday, House Republicans voted to censure and strip Representative Turner of their committee assignments.
Representative Turner is nonbinary and goes by the pronouns they/them.
Turner believed this had something to do with the Republicans’ actions.
“I understand that I’m a living breathing manifestation that you can take that anger out on,” said Turner. “I know that I represent a culmination of things that you all deeply hate. I know it makes it easier for you to silence the people of House District 88.”
Rep. Anthony Moore, R-Clinton, read the motion to censure Turner. He said it’s more about consequences for preventing law enforcement from talking with the protester.
“Let me be incredibly clear I have never and still do not believe that the Representative to be someone with poor character,” said Moore. “Protection is not the issue, harboring a fugitive and committing a crime is.”
Protesters were at the Capitol last week because the House voted to ban gender affirming care for trans-youth, and for adults that want to use their insurance to pay for procedures.
Turner said on the floor Tuesday, last week’s vote affected people in ways that Republican lawmakers could never understand.
“My office is, as long as the people from House District 88 put me here, will always be a place for folks to be able to come and process the events of seeing atrocious legislation that comes through,” said Turner, D-OKC.
House Speaker Charles McCall said in a statement that the censure is due to Turner impeding “law enforcement from carrying out investigations or making arrests in the State Capitol.”
“I want to make something very clear: I will not allow members of the House of Representatives to use their House assigned offices and official positions to impede law enforcement from carrying out investigations or making arrests in the State Capitol,” said McCall, in part of the statement.
Turner said law enforcement has not talked with them since last Tuesday.
Turner has not been charged with a crime.
A point that Democrats are hitting back with, since Rep. Ryan Martinez and Rep. Terry O’Donnell, both Republicans, currently face felony charges.
“At the end of the day, the troopers were able to do their job, the law was enforced,” said Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa. “I imagine their emotions were quite high when they showed up to Representative Turner’s office. There’s something to be said about the actions Rep. Turner took to deescalate the situation.”
Republicans said Turner could be reassigned to their committees if the lawmaker writes a formal apology to OHP, the Speaker of the House, and the House Minority Leader.
Representative Turner did not apologize Tuesday.
“We’re actively fighting to make sure we get an Oklahoma — all Oklahomans, including trans Oklahomans get a place to survive,” said Turner.