There is a scandal in McCurtain County after The McCurtain Gazette-News, a local newspaper, released recordings of racist and controversial comments by the sheriff and members of his staff.
In the recordings, the Sheriff's Department officers can be heard chatting about killing the owners of the local newspaper that is criticizing them. They also complained about not being able to rape black individuals, which police could have done in another era. Mark Jennings, the commissioner of the second district, is allegedly heard saying, "Take them to Mud Creek and hang them with a damn rope. But you can't do that anymore. They've got more rights than we got."
Along with him, Sheriff Kevin Clardy, Captain Alicia Manning and Prison Administrator Larry Hendrix joked about burying the bodies of their victims in a deep hole. "I have a bulldozer," one of them added with a laugh. The McCurtain Gazette-News obtained the recordings thanks to a hidden microphone in the county commission meeting. Jennings went so far as to say that he knows several "very discreet" Louisiana hitmen.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, reacted to The McCurtain-Gazatte's exclusive by calling for the resignation of all those involved in the case. Stitt said he was "appalled and disheartened" by the "horrible" and "hateful" words of McCurtain County officials. The governor stressed in a statement that there is no place in the state of Oklahoma for hate speech, much less when it comes from administration officials.
The governor said the state Bureau of Investigation would launch an investigation. The spokesman for the state attorney general said that the incident is under investigation, but did not add any further information. Meanwhile, a hundred people rallied in Idabel at the McCurtain County Courthouse to protest the racist and violent comments made by officials. The city's mayor, Craig Young, also condemned the comments heard in the recordings.
The McCurtain Sheriff's Office responded in a statement questioning the veracity of the recordings published by the local newspaper. It claims that the conversations were recorded illegally, adding that the content has been altered and does not correspond to what may have actually been said during the meeting.