America’s first non-binary Muslim lawmaker censured for hiding fugitive in office

America’s first non-binary Muslim lawmaker censured for hiding fugitive in office

By Piyush Arora

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA: America’s first-ever non-binary lawmaker has reportedly been censured for harboring a fugitive, who is accused of assaulting a police officer during a protest over anti-trans legislation. Rep Mauree Turner, the first Muslim person elected to the Legislature in Oklahoma, was also stripped of their committee assignments in the Tuesday, March 7 vote.

The assignments will only be reinstated after the second-term lawmaker issues a formal apology, including to the Highway Patrol officers, who were allegedly assaulted by their friend Austin Ross, according to Daily Mail. However, Turner has declared that they won’t be apologizing, as they believe Republicans are still trying to limit the rights of transgender individuals. “I think an apology for loving the people of Oklahoma is something that I cannot do,” said Turner. “It’s something that I actively refuse to do.”

Why was Austin Ross arrested?
Turner’s denouncement came after Ross allegedly flung water at Rep Bob Ed Culver and scuffled with a trooper during a protest against the passing of HB 2177, a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. Ross managed to escape the capitol complex due to a lack of manpower, according to officials. They added that he was eventually found inside Turner’s legislative office when the ruckus cooled down.

“When we go up to the representative’s office, we were not allowed in, even from opening the door,” said Trooper Eric Foster, with the Highway Patrol. Ross was later arrested on a complaint of assault and battery on a police officer, according to CT post. Culver told KFOR that his decision to press charges against Ross was not because the water was thrown on him, but rather because it was thrown at a state trooper.

Following Ross’ arrest, speaker of the House Charles McCall said in a statement that the House stands by law enforcement. “I will not allow members of the House of Representatives to use their assigned offices and official positions to impede law enforcement from carrying out investigations or making arrests in the state Capitol,” said McCall.

Who is Mauree Turner?
The Democrat has been serving as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives since 2021. Mauree is the first Muslim elected in Oklahoma, and the first non-binary person elected to a state-level position in US history. They have previously directed criminal justice reform programs with the American Civil Liberties Union and served as a board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

They earned a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma state university and also worked as an opinion column writer for O’Colly. Turner first served in the 58th Oklahoma Legislature. During the 58th legislative session, Turner was an outspoken critic of multiple anti-LGBT bills proposed in the legislature. They are currently the Regional Field Director for the Campaign for Smart Justice, an ACLU campaign focusing on criminal justice reform, according to CAIR Oklahoma.


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