In The Know: Juneteenth Celebration, Trump rally expected to bring 100,000 to downtown Tulsa this weekend as virus cases climb

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

No small affair: Tulsa’s Juneteenth celebration has attracted eyes of the nation: Tulsa’s community Juneteenth observance has attracted the eyes of the nation as civil rights leaders, sports celebrities and recording artists prepare to join in the local celebration. Many people were troubled that Trump and his mostly white followers planned a rally near the site of what was once the prosperous Black community known as Black Wall Street. [The Oklahoman

  • Greenwood to welcome Rev. Al Sharpton, Russell Westbrook, Lakeside Band and Le’Andrea Johnson for Juneteenth celebration [Black Wall Street Times]
  • Tulsa’s Juneteenth celebration releases schedule of events [Tulsa World]
  • Greenwood Chamber launches $10 million campaign to restore Black Wall Street [Tulsa World]
  • Greenwood takes center stage in Tulsa [The Oklahoman]
  • Trump’s rally brought a crisis to Tulsa. Now the city is expecting its biggest Juneteenth celebration ever. [BuzzFeed]
  • $6 million Commemoration Fund could make Tulsa a ‘national leader’ in racial justice, board members say [Tulsa World]
  • How ‘Watchmen’ reminds us of the Tulsa Race Massacre before Trump’s Oklahoma rally [USA Today]
  • The Bezos of Black Wall Street [Forbes]
  • When thousands gather in Tulsa, they will crowd onto ground soaked in racial violence. [The Atlantic]
  • Opinion: The burning of Black Wall Street, revisited [Opinion / New York Times]
  • Opinion: Tulsa and the Many Sins of Racism [Opinion / New York Times]
  • The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: Research reveals longterm financial fallout [Journalist’s Resource]
  • Editorial: Black Lives Matter [Tulsa World]

‘We would have said no:’ BOK Center management said they would have turned down Trump had Tulsa Mayor told them to: As Tulsa prepares to host thousands of people downtown, and health officials warn about infections and possible deaths as a result of the rally, the group that manages the BOK Center said during a public meeting Thursday they were “looking for” Tulsa’s mayor to tell them to turn down the event. [The Frontier] Officials with the management company that runs the BOK Center said Thursday that they fully apprised state and city leaders early on about plans to hold a political rally before approving the rental agreement. Those comments contrast with those made by Mayor G.T. Bynum who, in a Facebook post Tuesday, implied that he was left out of the loop when it came to planning for the event. [Tulsa World]

  • Whirlwind of activity surrounding Trump visit descends on Tulsa [Tulsa World]
  • Curfew now in place in area around Tulsa’s BOK Center [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa mayor imposes curfew ahead of Trump’s rally; police move out supporters who had camped out [USA Today]
  • City of Tulsa executive order declaring a civil emergency and restricting access [City of Tulsa]
  • President Trump says coronavirus ‘dying out,’ doesn’t fear potential outbreak at Tulsa rally [CNN via Tulsa World]
  • President Trump tweets at ‘protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes’ today before Tulsa rally [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum on Trump rally: ‘We will go through it as a community’ [Tulsa World]
  • Trump’s campaign rally reveals differences in how Oklahoma’s health commissioner, Tulsa’s health director view COVID-19’s potential hazard [Tulsa World]
  • ‘It’s going to be safe’: Stitt says state is ready for pivotal Tulsa campaign rally [USA Today]
  • Lankford says people with health issues shouldn’t attend [USA Today]
  • Several Tulsa justice rallies are planned … but not close to Trump event [The Oklahoman]
  • Ahead of rally, Tulsa PD stresses ‘safety’ — but not masks or distancing for officers [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Downtown small-business owners take cautious approach to President Trump’s visit, weekend events [Tulsa World]
  • QuikTrip announces which Tulsa stores will be closed this weekend [Tulsa World]
  • City authority overseeing BOK Center concludes it can’t cancel Trump rally contract [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Trump supporters camp out ahead of Tulsa rally, despite virus risk (video) [New York Times]
  • Politifact: VP Mike Pence says Oklahoma flattened the COVID-19 curve. That’s false. [Politifact via Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa arena asks Trump campaign for detailed health plan as Oklahoma Supreme Court hears arguments about rally [Washington Post]
  • In Tulsa, fears Trump rally may worsen crises (video) [Reuters]
  • Trump fans gather in Tulsa as virus cases rise (video) [Reuters]
  • Op-Ed: Trump rally a threat to public health [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]
  • Op-Ed: Trump’s political rally threatens Tulsa’s possible post-COVID-19 rally [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]
  • Point of View: Oklahomans deserve better than Trump’s divisive rally [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

COVID-19: Oklahoma numbers continue to spike: Oklahoma saw a 5.1% jump in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, with 450 new cases and two additional deaths. Thursday’s numbers, which include the highest daily count since the pandemic began, leaves the state with 9,354 cases overall, with more than 1,100 of those coming since Sunday. [Tulsa World] The figures were released not long after Gov. Kevin Stitt participated at a roundtable at the White House and told Trump that Oklahoma was “one of the first states that has safely and measurably reopened.” [The Oklahoman] COVID-19 cases surge in Oklahoma, other states ahead of Trump’s Tulsa rally [Reuters] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma. 

We’ve got to provide that hope’: Gov. Stitt hosts second roundtable on race, discussing economic development: At Gov. Kevin Stitt’s second roundtable discussion on race Thursday night, state Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, said he wants to see more young people exposed to business leaders and stakeholders in the form of paid internships. Stitt said he wants to get the two of them together with the State Chamber to help increase those opportunities, but Matthews added a sharp caveat. “We do have those programs,” Matthews said. “We don’t see black kids in them.” [Tulsa World] Video of the roundtable discussion [YouTube]

Health News

Analysis finds only seven states have adequate contact tracing capacity; Oklahoma is not one of them: An NPR analysis found that only Alaska, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia have enough active contact tracers. Six other states have enough if counting reserve staff. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Health Care Authority looking to reform Oklahoma Medicaid program: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) is seeking proposals from qualified managed care organizations to facilitate health care services to eligible members of Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, SoonerCare. [Fox 25] OK Policy: Managed care programs historically have reduced health care access and increased costs. Oklahoma has previously tried managed care for Medicaid,  but dropped it when costs escalated and companies dropped out. 

Vote on Medicaid expansion raises complex questions: Oklahoma voters who will decide on June 30 whether the state should accept federal funding to expand Medicaid have a lot to consider involving some very big numbers. One of the first of many eye-poppers is 1.35 billion. That’s how many dollars Oklahoma would expect to receive from the federal government this year alone if voters choose to pass State Question 802. Within five years of expansion, the state would expect to receive at least $8.5 billion. [Journal Record]

State Government News

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: President Trump rally, Norman police cuts, State Question 802 opposition & more (audio): Guests talk about the rally for President Trump coming up on Saturday at the BOK Center in Tulsa and the Norman City Council votes to redistribute $865,000 from the police department to other services. The trio also discusses news of a new Political Action Committee formed to oppose State Question 802 to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma and a dispute between Oklahoma and Cleveland County keeps a woman in jail for more than a month without the ability to post bond on a drug complaint. [KOSU]

State attorney who sent threatening emails to herself suspended: The former general counsel for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, who garnered national attention for sending fake emails to herself that appeared to be from medical marijuana proponents, was suspended for one year by the state’s highest court. [Bloomberg Law]

Federal Government News

Shawnee Tribe claims ‘unreliable’ data caused virus aid underfunding: The U.S. Treasury Department and U.S. Department of the Interior undercounted and undercompensated the Shawnee Tribe when allocating coronavirus relief funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the Oklahoma tribe said in a Thursday complaint. [Law 360]

Criminal Justice News

Misdemeanor dockets in Tulsa County postponed due to COVID-19: Tulsa County court officials have postponed misdemeanor dockets until August after a lawyer tested positive for COVID-19. Tulsa County District Judge William LaFortune announced Thursday that the misdemeanor docket will be postponed until Aug. 1. [Tulsa World]

Study: State Question 805 would save Oklahoma millions: Criminal justice reform activists believe a potential ballot question that calls for an end to rules that extend prison sentences for repeat offenders could reduce the state prison population by more than eight percent over time. [KOSU]

Oklahoma City Black Lives Matter requests more robust, transparent police oversight: Residents of Oklahoma City often don’t hear the details surrounding complaints against police and the investigations they prompt. Black Lives Matter activists, emboldened by nationwide protests against police violence, are calling for a new system of oversight. [KGOU / StateImpact Oklahoma]

Tulsa City Council boosts Police Department budget $876K in its $828.5 million budget for next fiscal year: The budget includes $122,558,000 for the Police Department, an $876,000 increase over the original spending plan for the current fiscal year. City Councilor Phil Lakin pointed out that the city is spending about $2 million on mental health and well-being programs. [Tulsa World] The budget does not include funds for an independent police oversight office, but officials say those can be added if an agreement is reached. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tulsa County looks to end jail bed, transport contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency: Tulsa County is considering ending its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide jail beds and transportation services at the Tulsa County Jail for immigrant prisoners held by the federal agency. [The Frontier]

Opinion: Many ideas offered in pursuit of better police work: President Trump signed an executive order this week intended to produce better policing practices. The Republican-led U.S. Senate proposed a bill Wednesday addressing the same issue; the Democratic-led House plans a vote soon on its police reform plan. This flurry of activity follows the death last month of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which produced a groundswell of demands for changes in the way police do their jobs. [The Oklahoman Editorial Board]

Economy & Business News

Initial weekly job claims decline more than 25% in state. Filings still remain among highest on record: First-time jobless claims in Oklahoma declined by more than a quarter last week compared to the prior week, but were still the fifth highest number recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, figures released Thursday show. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma beef task force formed by lawmakers: Two legislators have invited independent ranchers, meat buyers, meat processors, livestock auction owners and meat inspectors to convene and identify financial obstacles and structured solutions that will provide a process for long-term financial gain for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. [Journal Record]

Education News

OU, Cameron, Rogers State prepare for revenue shortfalls next year: The “enormous challenge” of budget crafting during COVID-19 is now complete for the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University. All three schools project deficits requiring cost-cutting measures and possible use of reserve funds. None will see tuition and fee increases in the next fiscal year except the OU Health Sciences Center. [The Oklahoman]

‘What can I do?’: Inside OU football player Chanse Sylvie’s plan for change: During a month of unprecedented activism from college athletes — even to the point of publicly calling out their own coaches — Sylvie went even further. He wrote and shared his own ideas for police reform and has spoken to reporters about them. He talked with the University of Oklahoma’s executive director of government affairs to learn more about the logistics of passing legislation. And last week, he met via Zoom with three Oklahoma state representatives, including the highest-ranking Democrat in the state. [The Athletic]

Tulsa school board makes Friday a paid holiday in observation of Juneteenth: The Tulsa school board voted Thursday evening to suspend district operations on Friday in observation of Juneteenth. District administrators are now calling for this designation because they say the country again stands at a crossroads “where the lives and livelihoods of all Black and Brown people are continuously in peril based solely on the color of their skin.” [Tulsa World]

General News

DACA recipients celebrate Supreme Court decision, say fight isn’t over: Oklahomans react to news that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in a 5-4 decision the Trump administration cannot immediately proceed with its plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. [The Oklahoman]

What you need to know about voting in the primary election: In less than two weeks, Oklahomans will vote in the first major election since the COVID-19 pandemic surged to a level that locked down much of the state. The disruption has left many voters with questions about the voting process itself, in addition to basic questions about dates, deadlines and the ballot lineup. Here’s what you need to know about voting in the June 30 primary. [Oklahoma Watch]

Will it be safe at the polls? The reopening of Oklahoma’s economy has brought thousands of people back into stores and workplaces, many of whom are choosing not to wear face masks or bother with social distancing. A question on the minds of election officials is whether a similar scenario will play out when thousands of voters head for the polls starting next week for the primary election, raising the risk of spreading the deadly coronavirus. [Oklahoma Watch]

Ahead of June 30 and amid COVID-19, candidates must campaign creatively: Candidates for public office across Oklahoma say campaigning during the era of COVID-19 is difficult and looks nothing like they expected when they decided to run. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa Theater distances itself from past with unveiling of Black Lives Matter banner [Tulsa World]
  • Repair work begins on flood-worn Tulsa-West Tulsa levee [Tulsa World]
  • Black gun owners plan pro-Second Amendment walk in OKC [The Oklahoman]
  • Black Lives Matter event set for Saturday in Enid [CNHI]
  • Tahlequah officials note uptick in COVID cases [CNHI]

Quote of the Day

“We are not here in sorrow. We are here to act — to create meaningful and sustainable progress, and to demonstrate to the world the power of Black folks working together.” 

-Actor, film maker and author Hill Harper, honorary co-chair of the $10 million campaign to restore Tulsa’s Greenwood District [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Estimates for number of people expected to be in downtown Tulsa on June 18-20 in connection to President Trump’s rally.   

[Source: City of Tulsa Executive Order]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Celebrate Juneteenth by continuing to fight for racial justice: Today, on Juneteenth, we commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Slavery was more than cruel, inhumane and barbaric, it was the foundation of an economic system, culture, and legal system. It has touched every aspect of life in the United States. So it’s no wonder that 154 years after the first Juneteenth, its insidious legacy looms large in Black communities across the nation. As a child, I saw the War on Drugs play out in my neighborhood, locking up neighbors and ripping apart families. Today I know that a racist criminal justice system picked up where slavery, “the black codes,” and Jim Crow left off. Slavery will not fully be abolished until we extricate it completely from all of our institutions. [Policy Matters Ohio]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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