Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is calling for the resignations of four county officials after the McCurtain Gazette-News obtained an audio recording of them making racist comments and discussing their strategy for having journalists killed and buried.
The officials, who were reportedly recorded during a March 6 county commission meeting, are McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy, Sheriff’s Capt. Alicia Manning, District 2 Commissioner Mark Jennings and Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix.
“I am both appalled and disheartened to hear of the horrid comments made by officials in McCurtain County,” Stitt said in a statement, the Associated Press reported Monday. “There is simply no place for such hateful rhetoric in the state of Oklahoma, especially by those that serve to represent the community through their respective office.”
In one clip, Jennings seems to complain that lynchings of Black people are outlawed. “Take them down to Mud Creek and hang them up with a damn rope,” he said. “But you can’t do that anymore. They got more rights than we got.”
In another, the group discusses Bruce Willingham, publisher of the print-only McCurtain Gazette-News, as well as his son, Chris, who is a reporter there.
“I know where two deep holes are dug if you ever need them,” he said, to which Clardy responded: “I’ve got an excavator.”
“Well,” Jennings replied, “these are already pre-dug.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Jennings seemed to brag that he’s known “two or three hitmen” in Louisiana who are “very quiet guys” and “would cut no fucking mercy.”
The elder Willingham said he obtained the clips with a voice-activated recorder that he left inside the meeting room on a hunch that the commission was breaking the law by conducting official business after the meeting’s conclusion. Willingham gave the clips to the FBI and the state’s Attorney General’s Office, he added.