In The Know: OKC, Tulsa eviction moratoriums proposed; state’s racial profiling law results in few cases; and more

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.

New from OK Policy

Unemployment insurance keeps Oklahomans safe, supports the economy: Since March 15, more than 450,000 people have filed new unemployment claims in Oklahoma. These unemployment claims make up nearly 10 percent of our civilian labor force, and it means that a lot of Oklahomans are out of work. For comparison, we’ve seen more claims since mid-March than we saw in all of 2009, the year during the Great Recession that Oklahoma saw the largest number of new unemployment claims. Unemployment insurance will be a critical piece of our ability to weather and recover from this economic and public health emergency. It is in everyone’s best interest for the system to be robust and accessible to all who need it. [Courtney Cullison / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

City councils in Tulsa and OKC to consider calling for moratorium on evictions: During an online conference hosted this week by a coalition of religious groups to discuss evictions in Oklahoma, members of the Tulsa City Council agreed to vote next week on a resolution asking Gov. Kevin Stitt to issue a moratorium on evictions in the state to give tenants more time to collect unemployment and stimulus benefits. [Tulsa World] OK Policy and its Open Justice Oklahoma program have been tracking evictions in Oklahoma and noted that reopening Oklahoma’s courts must be done thoughtfully to avoid a public health disaster.

Twenty years after it became a crime, racial profiling charges remain scarce: Friday will mark the 20th anniversary of the passage of a state law that for the first time explicitly banned racial profiling by law enforcement agencies. The law made it a misdemeanor crime for officers to stop, detain or arrest someone based on their race or ethnicity. But there’s little evidence that the law has brought any teeth to the ban against racial profiling. A 2018 Oklahoma Watch investigation found that every complaint submitted to the state attorney general’s office or the now-shuttered Oklahoma Human Rights Commission over the past decade was dismissed. The reason often given is lack of proof.  Two years later, as nationwide protests over racial unrest and police brutality have put policing practices back in a spotlight, the picture hasn’t changed. [Oklahoma Watch]

Protests bring increased attention to police budgets and practices in OKC, Tulsa

  • Residents and council members question OKC police department’s request for more funding [The Frontier]
  • Oklahoma City police make budget pitch, citizens want more accountability [NonDoc]
  • Questioning police policy: Speakers demand change during OKC Council budget meeting [The Journal Record]
  • OKC residents call for police change during hours-long hearing [The Oklahoman]
  • Police union backs chief, asks some elected leaders to apologize [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa police union opposes mayor’s renewed effort to create oversight program [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin talks protests, George Floyd video and being a black man in America [Tulsa World]
  • Editorial: Tulsa needs to act now to protect the lives of black Americans [Tulsa World]

Statewide protest-related coverage

  • All of your questions answered on civil disturbance and unrest training for Tulsa Police, OK Army National Guard [Tulsa World]
  • OKC mayor joins protesters in downtown OKC late Tuesday [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma City sit-in participants urge George Floyd protesters to stay peaceful [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma march leaves many feeling empty [Gaylord News via Enid News & Eagle]
  • After peaceful protest at Tulsa Hills, young protesters move to 71st and Memorial, get out of street only after tear gas is used [Tulsa World]
  • Protesters gassed at 71st and Memorial: Timeline of Tuesday’s demonstrations in the Tulsa area spurred by death of George Floyd [Tulsa World]
  • Police deploy pepper balls at protesters outside Woodland Hills Mall on Monday night [Tulsa World]
  • Still no decision on curfew in Tulsa night after contentious protests [The Frontier]
  • Thousands in Tulsa protest the killings of Black lives [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Video shot by plainclothes TCSO deputy embedded in protest shows pickup driving through protesters on Tulsa bridge [Tulsa World]
  • Brookside damage: Consignment store owner says vandals caused estimated $10,000 damage [Tulsa World]
  • Organized by 16-year-old, Norman protest peaceful [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman protesters call Tuesday march encouraging [KOSU]
  • Enid community members address BLM protests, Floyd death [Enid News & Eagle]
  • “This is what community looks like:” Teen activist leads peaceful protest through Claremore [Claremore Daily Progress]
  • Black Lives Matter protests held in Shawnee, statewide [Shawnee News-Star]
  • Listen Frontier (Audio): Demands for justice in Oklahoma streets [The Frontier]
  • Former Oklahoma County DA: This isn’t a police thing, it’s an “us” thing [Opinion / The Oklahoman]

COVID-19: 5 more deaths reported as cases rise by 119 in Oklahoma: Five more Oklahomans have died from COVID-19. State health officials reported the new deaths Tuesday. They also reported 119 new cases of the disease in Oklahoma, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health data. [Tulsa World] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma. Note:The state is no longer releasing specific data about infections and deaths in nursing homes, cities, or by ZIP code.

State Government News

Input sought on longterm public transportation priorities: The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is seeking public input on what the state’s transportation priorities should be for the next 25 years. Rather than focusing on individual projects, department officials said they want to know what people’s priorities are for various types or travel and freight movement in the state. [The Oklahoman]

If Tesla manufactures cars in Tulsa, Oklahomans can’t buy them: Even if Tesla starts manufacturing cars in Oklahoma, existing state law bars the automobile company from selling its vehicles directly to consumers. Fewer than a dozen states, including Oklahoma, continue to ban the direct sale of new cars by automakers. [CNHI via The Duncan Banner]

Sen. Ikley-Freeman released from hospital, transferred to physical rehab facility: Oklahoma Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman was recently released from the hospital and was transferred to a rehabilitation facility to help in the recovery of her injuries. [Sand Springs Leader]

Federal Government News

Horn wants national debt addressed in next coronavirus relief bill: Oklahoma Congresswoman Kendra Horn is part of a bipartisan group of 60 U.S. Representatives who have sent a letter to House leadership urging that a strategy for coping with the growing national debt be included in the next coronavirus relief bill. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

County jail unveils pod dedicated to veterans: Oklahoma County Jail officials on Tuesday unveiled a newly-repainted room dedicated to those who have served in the United States armed forces as part of an effort to increase mental health treatment for inmates. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Job losses driven by pandemic likely undercounted, affect Oklahomans differently: Job losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn may be greater than previously thought. Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Chief Economist Lynn Gray said the state unemployment rate for April was officially 13.7% but should be about 17% because some COVID-related job losses were classified differently by the U.S. Department of Labor until last month. [Public Radio Tulsa]

In expanded role, lawmaker wants to promote business with tribes: A state lawmaker appointed to a leadership post within the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators said he hopes to encourage business investment and greater investment in broadband internet in rural Oklahoma. [The Journal Record]

Health News

Oklahoma tests 35,800 nursing home residents, workers: State health officials tested more than 35,800 residents and staff at nursing homes across the state for COVID-19 last month, falling short of its goal to test all employees and residents, Gov. Kevin Stitt said on Monday. [AP News] All told, about 3% of those tested were positive for COVID-19. [The Oklahoman]

As farmers face increasing COVID-19 pressure, some fear for their mental health: Studies have found the rates of mental illness and suicide are higher for farmers. The profession requires long hours, limited social contact and is often at the mercy of external factors such as weather and market rates. Now the COVID-19 pandemic has farmers facing unprecedented challenges, and this has some worried about a mental health crisis in this community. [KOSU]

Tulsans find a way to forgive medical debt for struggling patients: Last week, letters were sent to 3,211 families in Tulsa County letting them know their medical debt has been purchased and forgiven. They owe no more money; no strings attached. These long-lingering, outstanding bills have been taken care of by a project launched nearly six months ago by two Tulsa residents. [Tulsa World]

General News

How to vote in Oklahoma’s June 30 primary elections: Oklahomans have until Friday, June 5, to register in time to be eligible to vote in the primary election on June 30. This primary season, voters will have the chance to vote for local and state legislators and sheriffs and weigh in on a ballot measure that would expand access to Medicaid in the state. [NonDoc]

On anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre, two documentaries announced to tell story of Black Wall Street: On the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and amid racial tensions across the country for the past week, a pair of documentaries that will focus on the massacre on Black Wall Street were announced Monday. [Tulsa World]

Human Rights Watch report calls on officials to make reparations for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: The group said they should base a reparations plan on measures recommended in the 2001 “Tulsa Race Riot Commission” report, including direct payments. Tulsa attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons said during a discussion of the report determining what is owed will be difficult. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘The hardest part is knowing our kids need other kids’: Part four of the photo-documentary “Life in the Quarantine” features the Ezughas of Edmond. Ben and Mandi Ezugha are parents of 2-year-old twin girls, Sia and Zara. Ben is a graphic designer. Mandi is a retail buyer whose job normally involves regular international travel. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Electronic intrusion delays beginning of Oklahoma City Council teleconference budget hearing [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman opens door to more outdoor dining space [The Journal Record]
  • Stephens County down to one active COVID-19 case [Duncan Banner]
  • Pittsburg County Courthouse visitors must continue screening process [McAlester News Capital]
  • Officials approve Woodward city budget, other items [Woodward News]

Quote of the Day

“Zero substantiated complaints? Wow, that is just comical. We have to come to the realization that we can’t keep sugar-coating what has been going on, since as long as do, we are just perpetuating the problem.”

-State Rep. Ajay Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, speaking about the status of racial profiling cases reported to the state for addressing. Pittman said she knows numerous people, including herself, who feel they were subjected to racial profiling. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


The number of racial profiling complaints against police that have been filed in Oklahoma since 2008. All were returned with a “no cause” finding, with the exception of four pending cases and one that was referred to the FBI in 2013. The annual profiling reports, however, likely provide an incomplete picture of complaints.

[Source: Oklahoma Watch]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

George Floyd’s death demonstrates the policy violence that devalues Black lives: George Floyd joins an ever-growing list of Black names who died unnecessarily while police performed their ostensible mission of protecting and serving. The racial attitudes that lead police to choke Black people (as the country previously witnessed with the 2014 death of Eric Garner in New York, which was also caught on video) are the same that exclude Black people from employment and investment opportunities. Those attitudes surface in research showing the disproportionate number of stops, arrests, and convictions that Black Americans undergo, as well as every extrajudicial killing such as Floyd’s. Few things signal that Black people aren’t wanted in a local economy like police officers killing them. [Brookings]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.