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OK Official Quits After Report He Discussed Murder, Lynching

A southeast Oklahoma county commissioner who was identified as one of several officials caught on tape discussing killing reporters and lynching Black people has resigned. Gov. Kevin Stitt's office received a handwritten resignation letter from McCurtain County Commissioner Mark Jennings, reports the Associated Press. The threatening comments by Jennings and officials with the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office were obtained after a March 6 meeting and reported by the McCurtain Gazette-News. They have sparked outrage and protests in the city of Idabel, the county seat. The sheriff's office says the recording was illegally obtained.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is probing the case. The recorded conversation included Sheriff Kevin Clardy, sheriff’s Capt. Alicia Manning, Jennings and Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix. Clardy, Manning and Jennings appear to discuss Bruce Willingham — publisher of the Gazette-News — and his son Chris Willingham, a reporter. Jennings tells Clardy and Manning “I know where two deep holes are dug if you ever need them,” and the sheriff responds, “I’ve got an excavator.” Jennings also says he’s known “two or three hit men” in Louisiana, adding “they’re very quiet guys.” Jennings appears to complain about not being able to hang Black people, saying: “They got more rights than we got.”


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