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US, Oklahoma. Officials on video about “hanging black people” and killing a journalist

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A local Oklahoma newspaper published a recording of a conversation between four McCurtain County officials, including the local sheriff. The recording shows that officials talked about wanting to order the journalist’s murder and regretted that they could no longer “hang black people from a tree”. The county commissioner heard on the video has resigned. The sheriff does not want to resign, but – along with the other two people heard in the recording: the prison administrator and the investigator – he was suspended by the local council that controls the work of sheriff’s offices. The state prosecutor’s office is investigating the matter.

Bruce Willingham, the editor-in-chief of a small, rural county 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 the recording of the conversation published by the newspaper, after the official part of the meeting, officials talked, among others about hiring hitmen to kill a journalist from the McCurtain Gazette-News who had published a series of articles that put the sheriff in a bad light.

McCurtain County Police Department in OklahomaFacebook/McCurtain County Sheriffs Office

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“I know two or three hit men, they’re very quiet guys … they’d kill mercilessly,” County Commissioner Mark Jennings said in the video. According to the published recording, he also added that he knows where the bodies of the dead can be buried. Sheriff Kevin Clardy, in turn, was to add that he had access to an excavator and digging the pits would not be a problem.

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

Sheriff Kevin ClardyFacebook/McCurtain County Sheriffs Office

The governor calls for his resignation

According to the New York Times, the publication of the newspaper, which comes out three times a week and has no website, has outraged residents and led to protests outside the sheriff’s office, where the black mayor of Idabel, the county’s capital, was also present.

On Monday, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt called on the four attendees to be taped to resign. The paper’s editor-in-chief Bruce Willingham told The New York Times that he had passed the recording on to the FBI and local investigators.

Local news website The Oklahoman reported on Wednesday that Commissioner Jennings sent a handwritten letter to his office resigning. In it, he noted that he would issue a statement in the coming days related to “recent developments in the county.”

The recorded Sheriff Kevin Clardy, in a statement issued by his office, accused the newspaper of illegally recording and “manipulating” him, although he did not explain what the manipulation would consist of. Willingham, quoted by the AP, says he consulted a lawyer twice before publishing the materials to make sure he could do it.

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

The other officials heard in the video were suspended along with him: corrections administrator Larry Hendrix and investigator Alicia Manning, NBC News reported.

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

McCurtain County is located in southeastern Oklahoma, approximately 300 km from Oklahoma City.

PAP, CNN, NBC News, The Oklahoman, AP

Main photo source: Facebook/McCurtain County Sheriffs Office

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