Lee Heidhues 4.21.2023
Racism in America runs rampant.
There are so many racist stories involving murder of Black people by Whites, whether it be cops or civilians, it’s hard to keep track of the grim news.
So, a story from Oklahoma where violence is only threatened but not actually perpetrated fails to get immediate major coverage. Now, this story is getting the traction it deserves.
First is a clip from the PBS News Hour followed by a report from the New York Times.
PBS News Hour 4.21.2023
Excerpted from New York Times 4.18.2023
A small newspaper in rural Oklahoma secretly recorded what it said was an illegal public meeting where a county official talked about hanging Black people and several officials spoke of hiring hit men and digging holes for two of the newspaper’s reporters.
Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma said on Monday that four officials in McCurtain County — the sheriff, a jail administrator, a sheriff’s department investigator and a county commissioner — should resign. One of those officials, the county commissioner, Mark Jennings, said he was resigning in a letter released by the governor’s office on Wednesday.
Clips of the recording released on Friday night by the newspaper, The McCurtain Gazette-News, have touched off shock and anger in the county of about 31,000 residents in the southeastern corner of the state, bordering Arkansas and Texas.
According to the transcript released by the newspaper, Mr. Jennings, a county commissioner, talked about hanging Black people by a creek. “But you can’t do that anymore,” he said, according to the transcript. “They got more rights than we got.”
“I know where two big deep holes are here if you ever need them,” Mr. Jennings said on the recording, according to the transcript.
The sheriff responded: “I’ve got an excavator.”
Mr. Jennings replied: “Well, these are already pre-dug.”
At another point, according to the transcript, Mr. Jennings said, “I’ve known two or three hit men, they’re very quiet guys.”
“Yeah?” Ms. Manning responded.
“And would cut no mercy,” Mr. Jennings said, adding an expletive.
Bruce Willingham, who has been publisher and editor of The Gazette-News since 1988, said he made the secret recording on March 6 by leaving his voice-activated recorder in the room where county commissioners were meeting. He said he wanted to prove that officials were discussing county business after the meeting had ended in violation of the state’s open-meeting law.
Bruce Willingham said he had turned over the full audio recording to the police and the F.B.I.