In The Know: President schedules Tulsa rally on Juneteenth; Tulsa officials respond to officer’s comments; Black Women Voices panel held

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

Policy Matters: Budgets should reflect community values: Recent protests in our state and around the nation have prompted difficult conversations with our colleagues, friends, and families about racism. As part of this dialogue, citizens are calling for their communities to reconsider existing approaches to law enforcement in order to address racial inequities. In turn, this is prompting a closer examination of how community values are reflected when expending taxpayer dollars. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Trump picks Tulsa for return of signature campaign rallies: President Donald Trump is planning to hold his first rally of the coronavirus era on June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And he says he’s planning more events in Florida, Texas and Arizona as well. [AP News] Mayor G.T. Bynum said his office is working to confirm details on the venue and visit. [Tulsa World] Some quickly pointed out that Trump’s first rally would be held on Juneteenth — a holiday to celebrate the end of slavery that is commemorated by Black Americans as an independence day — in a city where a race massacre took place 99 years ago. [Business Insider] Trump to restart election rallies on key slavery date [BBC News] Trump campaign officials are unlikely to put into place any social distancing measures for rally attendees, or require them to wear masks, people familiar with the decision-making process said, adding that it would be unnecessary because the state is so far along in its reopening. [New York Times] Tulsa protesters weigh in on Trump rally coming to Tulsa [KTUL]

Mayor condemns Tulsa police major’s comments; state representative calls for his firing; police chief reviewing situation: A Tulsa police major’s comments on a local radio show Tuesday drew a series of condemnations from community leaders and from his own police department Wednesday. [Tulsa World] Mayor Bynum apologizes for his ‘dumb and overly-simplistic’ comment on Terence Crutcher killing [Tulsa World] Tulsa mayor’s critics put forward a candidate for mayoral race Aug. 25 [Tulsa World]

‘We are here’: Black Women Voices hosts event in response to governor’s panel on race: “We have birthed nations. We have nursed nations. We have led, and we continue to.” This was the sentiment shared by Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, director of the Oklahoma City chapter of Black Lives Matter, at a roundtable on systemic racism, intersectionality and the role of black women in society, hosted Wednesday by the newly formed group Black Women Voices. [NonDoc] A group of local, black female leaders hosted a public discussion on race Wednesday evening after being left out of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s all-male panel on race earlier this week. [The Oklahoman] Editorial: The Stitts’ have started an important conversation on race but actions are needed [Tulsa World Editorial]

Protest-related news  

  • Activists call for Norman Public Schools to get rid of resource officers [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • Youth continue protests, organize against police brutality [The Oklahoman]
  • Medical staff kneels at Wayman Tisdale clinic in support of black community [Tulsa World]
  • Not Antifa: metro protester says image shouldn’t take away from message [The Oklahoman]
  • Man paralyzed in fall from bridge during Oklahoma protest [AP News]
  • Report: ‘Live PD’ canceled by A&E amid ongoing protests against police brutality [Tulsa World]

COVID-19: 2 more deaths reported with 117 new cases across Oklahoma: Two more fatal cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Oklahoma as the number of infections confirmed rose by 117. The death toll for the state is 355 with 7,480 COVID-19 cases confirmed so far. The two recently reported deaths were patients 65 or older in Cleveland and Seminole counties. [Tulsa World] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma. 

Criminal Justice News

Jaywalking arrest of 2 black teens in Oklahoma under review: Authorities in Oklahoma are investigating the arrest of two black teenagers who were accused by white police officers of jaywalking in a Tulsa neighborhood where some areas had patchy sidewalks or no visible footpaths. [AP News] Mayor Bynum, Black Officers Coalition leader respond to video of officers handcuffing black teens after jaywalking [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma man’s dying words in cop custody: ‘I can’t breathe’: Oklahoma City police have released body-camera videos of an armed black man who died in police custody last year after telling arresting officers ‘I can’t breathe.’ [AP News]

Rep. Monroe Nichols pitches policing reforms … again: Three years ago, in the wake of Terence Crutcher’s controversial death at the gun of a Tulsa police officer, Rep. Monroe Nichols was frustrated he could not convince his Republican colleagues to hear a bill that would have established a state task force to review and recommend community policing standards in Oklahoma. This spring, he successfully advanced a similar bill through the House Public Safety Committee by a 9-4 vote, but that’s where its progress ended. [NonDoc] Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, outlined his vision for legislation to be introduced ahead of the 2021 legislative session. [The Oklahoman]

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 Frontier] The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is looking to Attorney General Mike Hunter for advice on handling commutation requests from death row inmates. [The Oklahoman]

Before transitioning jail management, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office to be audited: The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office will have to go through another audit before giving jail property to the Oklahoma County Jail Trust as part of the management transition scheduled for July 1. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Oklahoma child care leaders share how they’ve dealt with positive COVID-19 cases: Over the course of the pandemic 565 centers with the capacity to serve more than 30,000 kids went dormant, according to DHS spokeswoman Casey White. There are 2,987 centers in the state. Of those that closed, 192 have reopened. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

The numbers you need: How to make sense of COVID-19 data: Embroiled in the first real pandemic of our lifetimes, we are suddenly facing numerous health decisions we were never prepared to make: Should I return to work? Can I hug my best friend? Can my parents finally hold their newborn grandchild for the first time? [Eric Pennell / NonDoc]

Tulsa works to support immigrant communities during pandemic: Tawi Buansing interprets the Zomi language at the Tulsa Health Department after every coronavirus press conference. Buansing learned about the job through a local church that recognized how the Zomi and Burmese community struggled with everyday tasks such as doctor’s visits, immunizations for their kids and other tasks due to language barriers. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Medicaid savings would not have helped fund expansion, Stitt’s office says: Medicaid programs in Oklahoma paid out $211 million less in May than in April, at least partly because people avoided the health care system, according to state officials. Expenditures in May were also nearly $100 million less than they were in May 2019. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Tulsa City Council asks Gov. Stitt to put most evictions in state on hold: Saying tenants need more time to collect unemployment checks and receive federal benefits, the Tulsa City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to ask for a statewide moratorium on most evictions. [Tulsa World]

  • Roni Amit: Tenants find little justice in Tulsa’s eviction court: Have you ever wondered what it takes to get evicted? Court records reveal that for one family in January, all it took was an outstanding balance of $48. Did that family at least have their day in court? Not necessarily. Almost half of eviction cases in January ended with an eviction judgment based on the tenant’s failure to appear, without any additional showing from the landlord. [Roni Amit / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Cratering of oil, gas stymies state economy: The cratering oil and gas industries continue to stymie the state’s economic recovery, officials said. The state’s general revenue fund collections for the first 11 months of the budget year were $472.2 million less than the same period the in 2019, state budget officials said this week. [CNHI via Muskogee Phoenix]

OG&E appeals ruling favoring electric co-op: Attorneys for Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. have notified the Oklahoma Corporation Commission the company will continue to fight for the ability to provide power to an entity within the territory of a local co-op. [The Journal Record]

Survival method: Small business owners rely on e-commerce: As the coronavirus began to bear down like a runaway train on Oklahoma in early March, Sidney Tyner grew more and more concerned. She worried about how her small business, The Enchanted Door, a mainstay in Altus since 1993, would survive if she had to close down for any extended length of time. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Q&A: What to expect when schools reopen in August: The coronavirus pandemic has erased the whiteboard for Oklahoma schools, leaving superintendents standing in front of it, sketching out their plans for reopening two months from now. [Oklahoma Watch]

General News

Opinion Column: If universities take student-athletes seriously, they’ll clear all athletic schedules on Election Day: “The first time I saw an athlete move beyond words in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death was University of Oklahoma football player Justin Broiles joining a Black Lives Matter rally in Oklahoma City. Broiles acted. And when he did, he proposed further action. He grabbed a megaphone and implored protesters to vote. ‘It’s our duty to get out and vote,’ Broiles urged May 31. ‘We’re the ones that can change it.’ This is instructive as we pivot from statements to initiatives on behalf of social justice. Voting is our most fundamental initiative. It is our most fundamental option when it comes to effecting change.” [Guerin Emig / Tulsa World]

Russell Westbrook to produce ‘Terror in Tulsa’ Black Wall Street tragedy film ahead of 2021 centennial: NBA player and former Oklahoma City Thunder all-star Russell Westbrook is the latest to announce that he is making a film documentary based on the Tulsa Race Massacre and the destruction of the Greenwood District. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Two more candidates join Tulsa mayor’s race as filing for municipal offices continues [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Mayor, multiple councilors file for re-election Monday [Tulsa World]
  • Norman Municipal Courts offering to clear warrants at reduced cost through June 30 [The Oklahoman]
  • City of Norman launches new, user-friendly website [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman Council approves general obligation bond election [The Norman Transcript]
  • Guymon City Manager Dunham gives update on water well outages [Guymon Daily Herald]
  • State grant to help fix Roosevelt water tower [Southwest Ledger]
  • Okla. Guard discusses COVID-19 contact tracing mission [KSWO]

Quote of the Day

“That is systemic racism, and until we address those facts, all the singing Kumbaya and holding hands and smiling at each other doesn’t mean anything at all.” 

– Camille Landry, an Oklahoma City-based community activist, speaking about focusing on interpersonal relationships rather than disparities in education, police violence, achievement and health between blacks and whites, citing high rates of maternal mortality for black women. [NonDoc

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s current rank in the nation for COVID-19 testing per capita. At 5,369 tests per 100,000 people, Oklahoma’s testing rate is only slightly behind the national average of 5,985.

[Source: NonDoc]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What do coronavirus racial disparities look like state by state?: African-Americans have higher rates of underlying conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease, that are linked to more severe cases of COVID-19, Nunez-Smith notes. They also often have less access to quality health care, and are disproportionately represented in essential frontline jobs that can’t be done from home, increasing their exposure to the virus. [NPR]

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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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