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When a protester jumped up and shouted “fascist!” within the first ten minutes of the Board of County Commissioners meeting it became apparent that Wednesday would not be just another routine day at the Oklahoma County Office building.

Other protesters started to speak up as well but eventually grew quieter as veteran protester Jess Eddy was led out of the room by Sheriff’s deputies in response to the initial outburst.

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Jess Eddy speaks to the Jail Trust in July 2019. (file photo, BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

They were reacting to a statement by Commissioner Kevin Calvey that he would be in favor of a resolution on the agenda that would seriously curtail protests in and around the Oklahoma County complex that includes the courthouse and the “annex” (Oklahoma County Office Building) downtown.

Eddy, the one who first shouted “fascist” in response to Calvey, was ushered out by Sheriff’s deputies and then placed under arrest.

Soon thereafter, Eddy was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail according to Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Mark Myers. He said the charge was “Willfully Disturbing, Interfering With or Disrupting State Business, Agency Operations, or Employees.”

Protesters took their demonstration outside to the sidewalk on the north side of the annex where they remained and chanted for the rest of the morning under the watchful eye of four to six Sheriff’s deputies.

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A sign being carried by a protester outside the Oklahoma County Courthouse Annex reads “Our bldg-Our Money-Our Speech.” (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

So far, the three commissioners have varied views. Kevin Calvey flatly declared his support for the resolution while Brian Maughan said that he thought there is some need to make sure “jury trials are not disrupted setting up a situation of a mistrial.” But he believed there needed to be more refinements to the current resolution.

Commissioner Carrie Blumert has consistently declared her opposition to the resolution starting Tuesday saying that it would infringe on people’s constitutional rights of free speech.

Resolution

Protesters turned out to demonstrate against a complex resolution that would have heavily curbed protests even outside the courthouse buildings but still on county property.

To learn more about the resolution see our report from Tuesday:

— Oklahoma County Court Clerk resolution would curb protests

To those who have been involved in several protests against Oklahoma County DA David Prater and the larger legal system, the timing of the resolution seemed to be targeting them in particular.

Just Monday most of the group of 15-35 protesters held their second “Moral Monday” protests in the small park just outside the east entry to the courthouse.

The first Moral Monday had been held there and other protests of Prater’s prosecutorial decisions had been held in the street on the north side of the annex.

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The first Moral Monday protest gathers in the park leading up to the east door of the Oklahoma County Courthouse. The second Moral Monday was held in the same place. (file photo, BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

The resolution showed up on the agenda posted Tuesday.

It would have designated only certain areas to be open as a public forum area outside around the complex and prohibited the use of any amplifying equipment like a bullhorn.

Strikingly, the resolution would empower any single judge to declare a protest outside the buildings to be disruptive and order Sheriff’s deputies to clear protesters off county property.

By contrast, earlier when judges wanted to control the hallways inside the buildings outside of their courtrooms there was a serious discussion of whether they do or should have the power to do so according to Maughan.

Why protest?

Free Press talked to protesters who we have seen before at the other protests and asked why they came out Wednesday.

Adriana Laws, president of the Collegiate Freedom and Justice Coalition, said she was “not necessarily happy that they deferred the vote” until Friday.

She said that if they vote in the resolution Friday, they would not have a chance to contest it between then and their Moral Monday protest they have planned for Monday possibly making the protest unlawful.

“Today, I came here to protest this agenda item that is keeping protesters from being on public property and being vocal on public property,” Kara Kliewer told us.

“I am here because David Prater has consistently turned his back on Oklahomans, specifically Oklahomans who are people of color,” she said.

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Sara Bana shouts into a bullhorn outside the Oklahoma County Courthouse Annex Wednesday, August 12. Use of a bullhorn would be prohibited if the resolution controlling protests passes in its current form. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Sara Bana shouted into the bullhorn about her reason for being there Wednesday.

“We want to push the Oklahoma City Police Department to turn on and utilize body cameras which we have funded,” shouted Bana. “At this point they are utilizing and turning on those cameras based on discretion. So what happens is they turn them off when they are getting ready to brutalize the poor, the Black, the native, the children and anybody else they are attempting to brutalize. That happened on May 30 and 31.”

May 30 was the first protest in Oklahoma City as other protests of police brutality around the country started to fire up in response to the brutal police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. See our coverage of that evening:

— Peaceful protest devolves into broken glass, police confrontations, tear gas

Chris told Free Press that he has been coming out not just because of one or two incidents.

“It’s not just cops,” he said. “It’s, you know, prosecutors, DAs, judges and it goes all the way up from the conditions in the county jail and from the Jail Trust, and the two – I believe – billionaires who sit on that Jail Trust.”

Again Friday

After several twists and turns on the status of the resolution during the late morning Wednesday, the meeting for 11:30 Friday was declared on by the commissioners just meeting the 48-hour Open Meetings Act requirement for notice of a special meeting.

Protesters said they will be back Friday, too.


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