Mark Faulk and Jess Eddy, both with years of experience leading protests in Oklahoma City, surrendered at the Oklahoma County Jail Wednesday morning after speaking to supporters who had gathered.
They were responding to arrest warrants after Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater pressed state misdemeanor charges against them July 24 for “obstructing a roadway” and “refusing to comply with a lawful order.”
The charges come from their arrests May 30 by Oklahoma City Police Officers in the early minutes of the Black Lives Matter protest at N.W. 23rd and Classen as protesters started to block the intersection.
After their release from those arrests, Eddy said he received informal word through an intermediary that Oklahoma County DA David Prater would not bring state charges but allow their violations to be a municipal court matter.
However, after the two participated in the Justice for Isaiah Lewis protest by the Collegiate Freedom and Justice Coalition July 21, Prater decided to bring state charges against them days later.
At our request, Prater sent a statement about why he decided to press the charges against Eddy and Faulk:
I draw a clear distinction between protected free speech and criminal conduct. I will continue to prosecute those who violate the laws created to protect the innocent citizens of Oklahoma County. I am not surprised that criminal defendants don’t like that. The criminal justice system provides a venue for the litigation of criminal cases. It’s called a courtroom. I will litigate these cases in an Oklahoma County courtroom, not on social media or through the press.
Before entering the Jail to surrender, they were surrounded by supporters and other protest leaders from Black Lives Matter OKC and the Collegiate Freedom and Justice Coalition. Eddy and Faulk have been assisting the groups in protests.
“Mark and I are here as white allies,” said Eddy in a speech to the supporters.
“We want to amplify the voices of these young folks that are real victims of David Prater’s terrorism and retaliation against free speech….That is what is important. That is why Mark and I and other white allies are going to continue after protesting Prater’s terrorism and oppression and unethical conduct.”
Eddy referenced the DA’s decision last month to charge several young people in their late teens and early 20s with terrorism, rioting, inciting to riot and other charges.
“Let’s all keep in mind that two white men of privilege [Eddy and Faulk] have been charged with misdemeanors while dozens of kids have been charged with felonies,” said Eddy. “Black kids, brown kids have been charged with felonies, terrorism, and that is what we are here.”
Faulk spoke about the conditions in the Jail where over 500 detainees are quarantined and almost 40 have tested positive. Some jailers and nurses have also tested positive.
“We will walk in there and with a little luck we will walk back out in a few hours,” said Faulk whose bail along with Eddy’s had been posted earlier in the morning. “But, I want … everybody to remember that this is the battle that needs to be fought.”
“David Prater treats black bodies like they are not just disposable but something to be stepped on,” Faulk said.
After that, the two were given final hugs and handshakes before walking in with Hannah Meadows and José Rubio who are staff with The Bail Project, the donation-supported organization that posted bail.
Where it started
Eddy and Faulk were arrested in the first hour of the first big Black Lives Matter protest May 30 where protesters blocked the intersection at N.W. 23rd and Classen Blvd several times. Later in the evening – after Faulk and Eddy were in custody – the crowd that had grown to somewhere around 1,000 marched to a spot in front of the Oklahoma County Jail and the Oklahoma City Police Department headquarters.
Faulk was among the first ten to be arrested as police responded to the protests aggressively. A lieutenant and about ten officers descended on the intersection and quickly started arresting protesters.
Some in the crowd thought the arrests and approach were overly aggressive and responded with shouts and occasional scuffles with officers which resulted in more arrests.
The felony charges from the evening came from acts of vandalism, setting fire to a Sheriff’s van blocking the entrance to the staff parking lot of the Jail, wrecking several police cars parked near the Police Headquarters. Prater also charged some with what he characterized as inciting the crowd to become more aggressive as they neared the area of Shartel Avenue in front of the Jail and the Police Headquarters.
OCPD officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. The crowd diminished in size leaving the most passionate and aggressive protesters to stay and continue to challenge police well past midnight. Tear gas continued to be used throughout the evening.
Police fired bean bag rounds into protesters who continued to come close to the police line guarding the Police Headquarters.
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