Hundreds gather at McCurtain Co. Sheriff’s Office to call for resignation of sheriff, others over recording of threatening comments
McCURTAIN COUNTY, Okla. (KSLA) - A large protest was held Monday morning (April 17) outside the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office as more than 100 people called for the resignation of Sheriff Kevin Clardy, and other county officials.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Idabel Mayor Craig Young are calling for the resignations as well after disturbing comments were recorded after a county commission meeting in early March.
“So we are asking for the resignation of the following people because of their action taken, because of the audio, and because of their failure to lead, and because of the trust lost in this community,” said Lonnie Watson, a concerned citizen who attended the protest Monday.
A reporter at the McCurtain Gazette-News made the recording in which those involved could be heard discussing plans to kill Gazette reporters Chris and Bruce Willingham after a commission meeting March 6.
According to the newspaper, Sheriff Clardy, District 2 Commissioner Mark Jennings, Investigator Alicia Manning and Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix could be heard making light of a case involving a woman dying in a fire, among other things.
“I don’t feel safe with him being our sheriff if he feels that way in his heart,” said Natasha Krueger, a resident of McCurtain County.
According to a transcript of the recording published by the Gazette, Jennings also made comments referencing the lynching of Black individuals. Jennings, Manning and Clardy were heard discussing the possible hiring of hitmen, according to the newspaper.
Click here to read the full transcript.
Gov. Stitt says Clardy, Jennings, Manning and Hendrix should resign immediately. The governor is also calling on the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) to look into the recorded comments.
According to KSLA sister station KSWO in Lawton, Okla., Gov. Stitt released the following statement about the incident:
“I am both appalled and disheartened to hear of the horrid comments made by officials in McCurtain County. There is simply no place for such hateful rhetoric in the state of Oklahoma, especially by those that serve to represent the community through their respective office. I will not stand idly by while this takes place. In light of these events, I am calling for the immediate resignation of McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy, District 2 Commissioner Mark Jennings, Investigator Alicia Manning, and Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix.”
“We are better people than this and we’ve got to respond better, and especially you as public officials, you’ve got to respond better,” said James Green, another concerned citizen.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling for the FBI and DOJ to investigate the Mud Creek area based on some of the comments made in the recording alluding to hanging Black people at this location. NAACP officials are also joining the call for those heard in the recording to resign immediately.
“We applaud Governor Stitt for calling for the immediate resignation of the county elected official implicated in the news report and for an OSBI investigation of any actions taken against black residents by them. In the wake of published news reports of the actions of McCurtain County elected official and recorded statements which indicate that they have personal knowledge past civil rights violations and possible criminal violation and cover-up which they either participated in or failed to report to law enforcement authorities,” the NAACP statement reads in part.
“Clearly, they abused their authority and violated citizen’s civil rights. Their words and actions are indicative of Jim Crow era of the lynching African American, burning the bodies of African American, and police brutality,” the statement continues.
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