Is Lankford Genuine On Racial Healing?

Image of James Lankford

I continue to think that U.S. Sen. James Lankford is just the wrong person at the wrong time to address racial reconciliation in the country despite the good press he’s generating locally on the issue.

The Oklahoman, for example, recently published an article on about Lankford under this headline: “U.S Sen. James Lankford has made racial healing a focus.” I’ve also written about Lankford and his somewhat simplistic call for people of different ethnicities to have a meal together here.

I really can’t judge Lankford’s sincerity on this issue. Who really can? The right-winger claims to be in touch with people by telephone in Oklahoma who are involved in protesting police brutality against black people and he’s in complete denial about the high incarceration rates of African Americans, but mainly he’s just extremely vague on details and he’s not showing up at marches and rallies where real racial healing is trying to assert itself these days on the streets.

According to The Oklahoman article, this is some of what Lankford said about the recent death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, who is black. Crutcher was shot to death by a white Tulsa police officer after he held up his hands in a gesture of surrender:

I've made several calls there. My staff has been engaged. We're just trying to stay connected to the community to hear what they think, feel, hear — what information they're getting and not getting. These are not just constituents; these are friends, and many of them are connected directly with that family.

Note the lack of specifics. I don’t think you can just “call in” racial healing, not that Lankford’s overall concern is not genuine.

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)


Let Us Pray Now For Earthquakes, Carbon Emissions

Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed Oct. 13 as Oilfield Prayer Day with strong support by the right-wing religious folks here.

It’s a perfect merger of two somewhat challenged entities—local energy companies and the Southern Baptist religious folks—joined together by an unpopular state governor, who is all too proud to hand out major tax breaks to the people causing all the earthquakes in this place and then issuing a call to pray for, well, more earthquakes.

No, I’m not making this up. Here’s the link to the coverage.

It’s difficult not to mock the absurdity and lack of values in this case, and, anyway, it has already been done by The Lost Ogle. Who even knew there was such as thing as the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's Oil Patch Chaplains ministry? Hunter S. Thompson could have used that one.

Oil Patch Chaplains? Did they just make that up? What about the poor, the sick? What about Diversify The Economy chaplains?

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)


Shelby Charge Just One Small Step For Justice

I continue to think it’s important to understand that charging Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby with first-degree manslaughter in the death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was just a beginning and doesn’t mean she will be convicted or police tactics will change.

In fact, the charges could be amended or dropped or Shelby, who has pleaded not guilty, could be acquitted. The Tulsa Police Department has no vested interested in admitting or conceding it poorly trains its officers in de-escalation tactics. None. The TPD has no vested interest in welcoming a citizen review board to oversee the actions of its officers, such as analyzing accusations of police brutality. None.

Shelby, of course, is the police officer who shot Crutcher to death Sept. 16 after he held his hands up in a gesture of surrender and walked around his car, which had come to a stop in the middle of a street. The surrender gesture was captured on a police dash cam video. Another officer shot him with a stun gun. It’s vitally important to note Crutcher, who is black, was unarmed. Shelby is white. One officer was recorded calling Crutcher a “big, bad dude” before he was gunned down.

Shelby’s attorney has argued that she suffered “auditory exclusion” during the encounter with Crutcher because it was such a high-pressure situation, and she didn’t even realize other officers were around her when she shot Crutcher in the chest, according to media reports. The main problem with this argument is that police work by its very nature is high pressure, and, if this argument prevails, it gives every police officer in the country an escape from being held responsible if they kill someone without a real cause.

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)