Oklahoma paper releases audio of county leaders discussing plans to kill a reporter, lynch Black people

Oklahoma paper releases audio of county leaders discussing plans to kill a reporter, lynch Black people

In Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt is calling for the "immediate resignation" of four McCurtain County officials in response to a damning report by the McCurtain Gazette-News — which alleges that it has obtained an audio recording in which the officials, during a March 6 meeting, can be heard making racist remarks and calling for violence against Gazzette-News reporter Chris Willingham.

The officials Stitt mentioned by name are McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy, District 2 Commissioner Mark Jennings, Investigator Alicia Manning, and Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix.

In a statement on Sunday, April 16, Stitt said, "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."

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According to the Gazzette-News, copies of the recording have been given to the FBI and the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office.

The Oklahoman's Josh Dulaney, in an article published on April 16, reports, "A portion of the audio recordings were released online over the weekend."

During the March 6 conversation, according to Dulaney, Manning is heard "saying she needed to take some packages to a shipping center near the newspaper’s office."

"(Manning) expressed concern about what could happen if Willingham walked out of the newspaper’s office, according to the (Gazzette-News)…. Willingham, that day, had filed a defamation lawsuit against the (McCurtain County) Sheriff’s Office, Manning and the Board of County Commissioners."

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During the conversation, according to Dulaney, Manning allegedly told the other officials, "I ain’t worried about what he’s gonna do to me. I’m worried about what I might do to him. My papaw would have whipped his a**, would have wiped him and used him for toilet paper."

Jennings allegedly said, in response, "I know where two big, deep holes are here if you ever need them." And Clardy allegedly said, "I've got an excavator."

During the conversation, Jennings allegedly condoned lynching Blacks, saying, "Take them down to Mud Creek and hang them up with damned rope. But you can’t do that anymore. They've got more rights than we’ve got."

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Read The Oklahoman's full report at this link.

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