MCCURTAIN COUNTY, Okla. (KTAL/KMSS) – Protesters gathered outside the McCurtain County Commissioner’s Office Monday morning as officials selected a candidate for the empty seat left by District 2 Commissioner Mark Jennings.
Jennings resigned in April after the McCurtain Gazette-News reported a scandal involving recordings of several officials discussing killing reporters, returning to lynching Black people and making fun of a woman that died in a house fire. A few days after his resignation, Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered a special election to fill the District 2 Commissioner seat.
Residents lined up to protest early Monday carrying signs demanding equality and calling for change. There have been many such protests since the shocking recordings were released.
Antoinette Lewis, an Idabel citizen said Monday, “They said what they said. We heard it. You meant what you said, and we just don’t trust you or need you here.”
Another protester expressed concerns about their safety. “If you need to call the sheriff’s office for some help, how would you feel if these are the people that you would have to call?”
The agenda notes state the board plans to discuss the appointment of District 2 Foreman Ray Bamburg to fill the District 2 Commissioner seat until a successor is elected. The board appointed him during Monday’s meeting.
“I jumped into the pit. I’m here, and I want to do what I think is right to the best that I can do. So all I ask is that you pray and be with me as I pray myself,” said Chairman of the Board, John Williams.
Those interested in running can file at the McCurtain County Election Board’s Office from May 1-3. The Dist. 2 Commissioner’s Office says the special primary election will take place June 13. If unnecessary, a general election will take place Sept 12.
The McCurtain County Jail Trust held a special meeting on May 2 to discuss the possible discipline or resignation of McCurtain County Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix. Hendrix, Jennings, investigator Alicia Manning and Sheriff Kevin Clardy are all accused of participating in the racist and violent conversations recorded by the Gazette reporter.
The McCurtain County Clerk’s Office confirmed Monday that Clardy is still the Chairman of the McCurtain County Jail Trust. Both Clardy and Hendrix attended the meeting. Neither he nor investigator Manning has announced intentions to step down.
Protesters gathered outside the commissioners’ office Tuesday, holding hands and praying during the meeting.
- Sheriff, officials asked to resign after voice recording surfaces in Oklahoma
- McCurtain County residents demand Sheriff, Commissioner’s resignation
- McCurtain County commissioner resigns over recordings discussing hit men, lynching
- Gov. Stitt calls for special election for McCurtain County Commissioner seat
After two bomb threats over the recordings were called in to McCurtain Memorial Hospital, it installed metal detectors to hopefully prevent another evacuation.
Hospital CEO Brian Whitfield said Monday, “It’s disheartening that that is where we’re at. I do have an obligation to not only our patients, our staff and also to the people in the community to keep them safe while they are in our building.”