Vote Yes on State Question 805

Oklahoma has a chance to address part of it’s poor and painful history of extreme sentencing for non-violent crimes. Because of current sentencing laws, prosecutors can stack additional years on a sentence by considering previous crimes. Accordingly, some Oklahomans are going to prison for decades for a small infraction. That is costly to the state and does nothing to deter crime. Oklahomans can begin the march towards more progressive sentencing guidelines that are proportional and humane.

The proposed constitutional amendment will end the practice of heaping years on non-violent sentencing that was created when getting tough on crime was the issue of the day. The days of bigger guns, meaner dogs, sharper barbwire, more toxic lethal injections, and a rejection of rehabilitation of criminals was tragically in vogue. Politicians were under pressure to prove they were tough on crime. Prosecutors and judges pledged to throw the book at all criminals for every infraction. Also, people of color found themselves at the sharp end of the judicial spear for the smallest of crimes. Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans were disproportionately sentenced to more enhanced sentences and it happened to them more often.

Proponents of State Question 805 say the savings in the coming years could reach $200 million; money that could be spent on treatment centers and education. It costs a lot less and is more effective to treat an addict than to throw them into prison. Up to 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate. Prison data show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to the 70% who receive nothing. Oklahoma cannot support a system that is cruel, expensive, and ineffective. The Oklahoma Eagle strongly encourages all Oklahoma to vote Yes on State Question 805.

BLM Message Not Going Away Soon Despite Oppressive Pushback

Multiple groups of protestors and proponents took to the streets Saturday afternoon on the heels of the city of Tulsa destroying the Black Lives Matter mural into dust after no remedy could be found to allow the striking message to stay. To be honest, there was no interest in city government to allow the mural to stay. Only city councilors Kara Joy McKee and Vanessa Hall-Harper worked to find a way to keep the mural. Saturday, citizens on both sides took to the streets to voice their opinion.

Of course, in these days when police reform is on the lips of many people of color, the action of the police was to terrorize the Black Press by intimidation. On a day when one march was staged to back the blue, the actions of some in blue was unworthy of that backing.

There were several groups speaking against the Mayor, city council and others who wanted the provocative mural to be erased. Others like McKee, Hall-Harper and George Kaiser reasoned the mural should be seen as more than yellow paint on a street where wanton violence once occurred almost 100 years ago. Tulsa wasn’t the only metropolitan city in America with “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned on their streets to reinforce the notion that in practice and history Black Lives don’t matter yet. Tulsa does have the embarrassing place in modern history to be the first city to remove the mural. Other cities used city funds to paint the mural; Tulsa could not find the wisdom to do the right thing.

Greenwood is not just another street managed by municipal codes which is usually ignored by city resources reserved for other parts of Tulsa. It is the most famous street in Oklahoma for a terrible reason. It is the place where, by all accounts the single worst act of White terrorism ended up in a human massacre. It is the only street ever bombed from the air in the continental United States. The less than ¼ of a mile of road is not just another street. It was also what some called “Black Wall Street” because of the wealth created there by residents. A simple resolution to recognize the message and keep it in coordination with the children of Greenwood is all it would take to keep from telling the world Tulsa has not evolved. Tulsa city government believes they, through the might of large street machines, have solved the problems of BLM murals. Reason says that paint is cheap and how many times can they fire up the trucks? They have stopped nothing.

Tulsa can do better than this and if they were smarter, they would listen to Kaiser and others and find a commonsense solution that shows evolution and not devolvement.

Policing Study Shows Law Enforcement Is Ready To Fight Reform

Even Oklahoma is looking at ways to reform policing, although as of today the sides are miles apart on what to do. Proponents want to look at use of force. Problems like the use of high-profile restraint holds that resulted in death. One of the dividing lines is the notion of racial bias in police department. While that may seem silly after years of questionable police tactics, that was real sticking point. The study facilitated by the Oklahoma State House of Representatives truly shows us the day of resistance to change.

The study chaired by the Public Safety Committee Chairman Justin Humphrey, R-Lane and representing the call for reform in the form of legislation was Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa. Police officials were there to say nothing is wrong and racial bias does not exist. That may seem totally improbable but it was trumpeted as truth by law enforcement officials. But not all of them.

Former Tulsa police Chief Drew Diamond was there as well and disputed the inconceivable claim “driving while black” does not exist. Not sure the republican led state government has the spine to reform police officers backed up by their unions. Efforts to pare back the protection of qualified immunity that is abused and is not necessary to perform their job, have been thwarted. Police can pull out their weapon and shoot secure in the knowledge there is little chance they will be held accountable for shooting citizens.

Goodwin, Diamond and others have their work cut out for them, however their noble mission to correct the present problems are what needs to be done. We support their efforts.