In The Know: Poll: Racial discrimination is a problem; residents call for re-examining policing, funding; 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.

Oklahoma News

In new poll, Oklahoma voters say racial discrimination a problem, protester anger justified: About 60% of likely voters in Oklahoma believe racial discrimination is a big problem in the United States, according to a new poll that also shows a majority of those surveyed said protester anger was justified over the police killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis. According to the poll, only 18% of all likely voters surveyed have ever felt harassed by police, but 54% of black respondents have. Only 32% of all likely voters surveyed believe police are more likely to use excessive force against black people, but 75% of blacks believe that. [The Oklahoman]

Residents call for re-examining policing, funding   

Race and equity news items  

  • Black Women Voices plans roundtable on race, social justice [The Journal Record]
  • ‘A different kind of pain’: On third anniversary of Joshua Barre’s death, protesters rally for mental health awareness by first responders [Tulsa World]
  • Moore residents hold first rally for racial equality [The Norman Transcript]
  • Autry Tech Center offering free online training to address diversity, bias, social justice [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Opinion: Powerful talks about race happening across Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]

COVID-19: Newly reported cases in Tulsa County surge to highest level yet: The number of newly reported COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County has reached a new high. The Tulsa County Health Department reported 65 new cases Tuesday. The June 8 total exceeded the previous single-day high of 55 on April 3. [Tulsa World] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma. 

Criminal Justice News

Video: Derrick Scott pleaded ‘I can’t breathe’ during physical arrest last year by OKCPD: Black Oklahoma City resident Derrick Elliott Olie Scott pleaded “I can’t breathe! Please! Help me! I can’t breathe,” as three Oklahoma City police officers pinned him to the ground with their knees and hands, removed a handgun from his pocket and held him there for about 13 minutes while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Scott’s pleas were chillingly similar to those of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police has been the catalyst for nationwide protests. Scott, 41, was pronounced dead at an Oklahoma City hospital on May 20, 2019, about an hour after his arrest. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa police release video of officers handcuffing black teens for jaywalking; Internal investigation under way: Tulsa police on Tuesday released videos showing at least two white officers handcuffing and later arresting a black teenager they stopped for walking in the street. Police said an internal investigation has been initiated. [Tulsa World]

TPD major: Police shoot Black Americans ‘less than we probably ought to’: Discussing nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, a white Tulsa Police Department major said Monday systemic racism in policing “just doesn’t exist.” [Public Radio Tulsa] Tulsa police major responds to controversial comments from radio interview [KTUL]

Tulsa mayor statement: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum releases social media post addressing his recent media interview about the Terence Crutcher killing where he described it as not race-related, recent comments by a Tulsa Police Department major, and a TPD jaywalking arrest video released Tuesday. [Mayor G.T. Bynum / Facebook

Canadian County sheriff creates volunteer ‘Sheriff’s Posse’ to aid law enforcement: Canadian County Sheriff Chris West announced Tuesday his office is accepting applications for a group of local volunteer residents to assist deputies in “safeguarding lives and property.” [The Oklahoman]

‘Who do you call when it’s the police that are doing the crime?’ (audio): Following the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, north Tulsa resident Sondra Slade and her family are having talks about being black in America. In her audio diary for KOSU, Slade talks about her worries as a parent and how these events are affecting her kids. [KOSU]

Can the state’s pardon and parole board commute the sentences of death row inmates?: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board this week agreed to ask the state Attorney General for clarification on the legality of holding two-stage commutation hearings for death row inmates. The request comes as Oklahoma attempts to resume executions, and amid growing interest in the case of Julius Jones, an Edmond man held on death row for a 1999 murder. Jones has maintained his innocence for more than two decades. [The Frontier

Point of View: SQ 805 offers redemption, recovery and savings: One pressing problem remains the same — we have too many people in Oklahoma prisons. Our incarceration crisis is largely driven by the use of sentence penalties and extreme prison sentences, a practice that permits people accused of crimes to have years, decades or even life in prison stacked on top of their prison sentence if they have a previous conviction. [J.C. Watts Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

Health News

‘A precarious position’: COVID-19 situation for minorities complicated by already higher rates of disease, poverty, virtual panel says: While a concern that continues to deserve more focus, COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on minority communities comes as no surprise, say some Tulsa-area health experts and minority advocates. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma in Phase Three of reopening while nursing homes, long-term facilities remain on lockdown: Oklahoma is now officially in Phase Three of reopening. Bars are back open, businesses are able to be fully staffed and summer camps are back on, but nursing homes and long-term care centers are still on lockdown. [KFOR]

Patient dies at care center; 12 residents test positive: One patient has died at a Lawton care facility from COVID-19 and 12 residents have tested positive for the virus. [The Lawton Constitution]

Catholic bishops throw support behind push to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma: In just a few weeks, Oklahoma voters will be able to voice their opinions on Medicaid expansion in the Sooner State. In recent years, there has been a push across the state to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma. [KFOR]

Op-Ed: A chance to show real gratitude to our essential workers … with Medicaid expansion: Many essential workers are low-paid, hourly employees, earning anywhere from just over the state’s measly $7.25-an-hour minimum wage to $12-an-hour. Many don’t earn enough to provide for their families without regular assistance from public programs and private charities. And many of these low-wage workers work in jobs where they are unlikely to receive basic benefits, including employer-provided health insurance. [David Blatt Op-Ed / Tulsa World] Note: Blatt is the former executive director for OK Policy and now teaches public policy in the master of public administration program at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.

State Government News

State’s general revenue far short of estimate in May: The state’s general revenue receipts fell nearly 12 percent short of the budgeted amount in May, officials said Tuesday. The shortfall was not unexpected, given the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a worldwide oversupply of oil and natural gas. And, while the shortfall was severe, it was not anywhere close to April’s breathtaking 44 percent. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma organizations announce support for US bill that would train police on mental health crises: Several local organizations are throwing their support behind a bipartisan piece of legislation introduced by a congresswoman from Oklahoma. On Tuesday, more than a dozen Oklahoma organizations and lawmakers publicly endorsed criminal justice reform legislation that was introduced by Congresswoman Kendra Horn. [KFOR]

Economic Opportunity

Program offers to pay rent for Tulsa families facing evictions during COVID-19 crisis: Worried that one of the worst eviction rates in the country will jump even higher in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown, charitable donors are offering to pay overdue rents for more than 500 Tulsa families. [Tulsa World] Restore Hope Ministries is partnering with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Tulsa Area COVID-19 Response Fund, administered by The Tulsa Community Foundation and Tulsa Area United Way, to help Tulsa area tenants and landlords. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Economy & Business News

CARES funding appears to be helping rural businesses: Cattle and crop producers and business owners in small towns were not overlooked when federal lawmakers crafted the massive CARES Act to protect the American economy against damages inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma farmers seeing lower prices for crops amid economic upheaval: Zack Harris looked across his wheat fields earlier this year. He liked what he saw. His wheat crop was lush and green. He expected to have a strong yield. And wheat prices, he said, weren’t bad. In mid-March, that all changed. [The Oklahoman]

Chesapeake Energy, a fracking pioneer, is reeling: The company, which has said it could file for bankruptcy protection, helped turn the U.S. into a gas exporter but became known for an illegal scheme to suppress the price of oil and gas leases. [New York Times]

General News

22 state parks to start charging admission fees: Visitors will start paying admission fees next week at 22 Oklahoma state parks, officials announced Tuesday. Starting Monday, residents with an Oklahoma license plate will be charged $8 per vehicle to park at the 22 state parks. Out-of-state residents will pay $10 for the one-day parking pass. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

State GOP calls flyer misleading: The Oklahoma Republican Party on Tuesday asked a state House District 83 candidate in a cease-and-desist letter to stop misleading voters. “I ask that your campaign refrain from using language that may suggest to a voter that you are the nominee of the Republican Party unless you are selected as the nominee on June 30th,” the party’s general counsel told Robert McMaster of Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Racism, death of George Floyd condemned in OKCPS Board resolution [Free Press OKC]
  • Two more candidates join Tulsa mayor’s race as filing for municipal offices continues [Tulsa World]
  • City of Tulsa, staff plan improvements in bid to keep Animal Welfare operations in-house [Tulsa World]
  • City of Norman axes animal shelter privatization proposal [The Norman Transcript]
  • Lawton City Council delays budget action, gives staff time to evaluate new idea [The Lawton Constitution]
  • Plan A, Plan B & Plan COVID-19 for Luther Public Schools [The Luther Register

Quote of the Day

“Without diverse and community-centered perspectives, we forge narrow conversations that don’t get us to the heart of what systemic and institutional racism looks like and what truly should be done to dismantle it.”

-Bailey Perkins, moderator for an upcoming Black Women Voices panel on race and social justice [The Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Black Oklahomans who account for the state’s COVID-19 cases, while they represent 7 percent of the state’s population.  White Oklahomans account for 74 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases and 72 percent of the state’s population. American Indians or Alaska Natives account for 7 percent of Oklahoma’s COVID-19 cases and 8 percent of the state’s population. 

[Source: COVID Tracking Project

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How racism, health disparities harm black Americans: Demonstrations are flaring up across the country to protest the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police. They’re also calling attention to broader inequalities. One of those areas—health disparities—kills Black Americans in massive numbers. [Indiana Public Media]

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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.

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