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McCurtain County Movement unimpressed by AG’s Clardy comments

By June 21, 2024No Comments

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond issued a statement on Wednesday congratulating voters on decisively saying “no” to another term by current McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy. But Drummond’s comments were not received well from some residents, who stated that something could or should have been done without waiting for an election.

Drummond stated on social media that he “issued a letter nearly 12 months ago stating that the only legal path to remove Sheriff Clardy was through the ballot box. Yesterday, the voters of McCurtain County stated clearly that they reject the leadership of a man whose statements were clearly hateful and racist.  I commend the voters for choosing a different path and I look forward to working with the new sheriff to protect public safety.”

The attorney general’s comments a year ago followed the release of audio by this newspaper that captured Clardy, MCSO Captain Alicia Manning, then-Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix and former District 2 County Commissioner Mark Jennings making various racist comments, endorsing violence against suspects and seemingly plotting to kill the publisher of this newspaper and his son, a reporter.

The audio led to calls from Gov. Kevin Stitt for all four individuals to resign, though only Jennings did so.  Stitt later urged the use of all legal means to remove Clardy from office, but Drummond, in his role as attorney general, stated that there was no way to do so as racist comments were not illegal.

Notably, aside from threats of violence, the comments from Clardy and the others were recorded during a public meeting whose attendance by sheriff’s officers to talk about killing reporters without an agenda item to that effect, itself was clearly illegal, yet the AG made no mention of that.

Lonnie Watson, a member of the McCurtain County Movement which organized after the release of the audio, took issue with Drummond’s response to Clardy’s primary loss.

“We have been on top of this from day one, as you are well aware, Mr. Drummond,” Watson wrote.  “You totally failed this county when you made that audio about race only.  To me and others, that was your way of totally distancing yourself from the issue.”

“You totally, purposefully, ignored (that) the Sheriff, who participated in a dangerous conversation about hanging people and hiring hit men and the Sheriff saying he had an excavator to help dig the holes. Instead, you made it about race.”

“On top of that, all the letters we sent you, all the statutes that were sent your way, you ignored (at least three were violated and you did nothing). We reached out to you through Senator Burns two weeks ago.  Senator Burns sent word to you that we wanted to meet with you for some clarification because we wanted to know where should we go from here.”

“You not only refused to meet with us, but you also refused to meet with the Senator as well.  You hid behind your assistants and sent word ‘there were no laws broken’, those were your words to Senator Burns.”

“So forgive me if I don’t find your press release genuine,” Watson continued. “This county deserves better, this great state deserves batter leadership, and I for one will be front and center when you are making your political run for Governor of our great state, because you failed this county plain and simple, and this state does not need someone who fails to speak up for victims as our governor, or AG for that matter.”

“You have my email address if you wish to have a conversation.  Thank you to the great people of McCurtain County for speaking up,” Watson concluded.