May 28, 2023


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United States, Oklahoma. Officials in a video about the “hanging of blacks” and the murder of a journalist

A local Oklahoma newspaper published a recording of a conversation between four McCurtain County officials, including the local sheriff. The recording shows that the officials spoke of wanting to order the killing of the journalist and expressed regret that they could no longer “hang black people from a tree”. The county commissioner heard in the video has resigned. The sheriff does not want to resign, but – along with the two other people he overhears in the recording: the prison warden and the detective – is stopped by the local council, which controls the operation of the sheriff’s offices. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the matter.

Bruce Willingham, editor of a small country newspaper, secretly left a tape recorder in a room where local officials, including the local sheriff, were meeting on March 6, according to the New York Times.

According to a recording of the conversation made public by the newspaper, after the official part of the meeting, officials talked among other things about hiring hitmen to kill a McCurtain Gazette-News journalist who had published a series of articles putting the mayor in a bad light.

McCurtain County Sheriff’s Department in OklahomaFacebook/McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office

“I know two or three men who were injured, they’re very calm…they were killing mercilessly,” County Commissioner Mark Jennings said in the video. According to the posted recording, he added that he knew where the dead bodies were buried. In turn, Sheriff Kevin Clardy added that he would have had access to an excavator and digging the pits would not have been a problem.

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Jennings and Clardy also lamented, according to the newspaper that released the video, that authorities could no longer “slap a black man and throw him in a cell.” – Take them to Mud Creek (a local river) and hang them with a cursed rope. But you can’t do that anymore. They have more rights than we do, Commissioner Jennings says in the McCurtain Gazette-News.

Sheriff Kevin ClardyFacebook/McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office

The governor calls for his resignation

According to the New York Times, the publication of the paper, which is published three times a week and has no website, angered residents and led to protests outside the mayor’s office, where the mayor of Idabel Black, the county capital, was also. Present.

On Monday, Oklahoma Governor Kevin State called on the four attendees to register to tender their resignations. The paper’s editor-in-chief, Bruce Willingham, told The New York Times that he passed the recording on to the FBI and local investigators.

Local news site The Oklahoman reported Wednesday that Commissioner Jennings sent a handwritten letter to his office resigning. In it, he indicated that he would issue a statement regarding “the latest developments in the governorate” in the coming days.

Registered Sheriff Kevin Clardy, in a statement from his office, accused the newspaper of illegally recording him and “tampering” him, though he did not explain the reason for the tampering. The Associated Press quoted Willingham as saying he consulted his lawyer twice before publishing the materials to make sure he could do so.

Although Sheriff Clardy did not resign, he was suspended by the state government that controls the Oklahoma mayor’s offices.

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Other officials heard in the video were suspended with him: Director of Corrections Larry Hendricks and Detective Alicia Manning, NBC News reported.

The prosecutor’s office said it was investigating the matter. CNN reported that the FBI declined to comment on the matter.

McCurtain County is located in southeastern Oklahoma, about 300 kilometers from Oklahoma City.

PAP, CNN, NBC News, The Oklahoman, AP

Main image source: Facebook/McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office