Family & Community
Mike Brake | August 25, 2020
Woke brigades descend upon county commission meeting
“You have nothing to lose but your chains!” the woman shouted as she stepped away from the microphone. Up on the horseshoe, Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert nodded and smiled. The red-headed woman in the front row who had been choreographing this protest with hand signals raised the one for applause. Across the way, none of the media members covering it made a note.
I turned to one of Blumert’s aides and said “Vladimir Lenin.”
“Huh?” he replied. Actually it was Marx, as in “workers of the world unite.” (One commie thug tends to look and sound like another.) But the astonishing thing was that here in 2020, in a meeting of a local governmental body earlier this month in the center of Oklahoma, a speaker had made an approving reference to a key line in The Communist Manifesto … and no one seemed to think that odd at all.
This is what you get when the woke brigades seize control of the agenda.
They came to wrap themselves in the First Amendment over a poorly conceived resolution that would have limited some forms of protest to some areas of the Oklahoma County Courthouse complex. The idea seemed to have originated with judges who did not care for the prospect of swarms of leftist agitators howling and yammering outside their courtrooms when jury trials resume this fall.
The commissioners—Kevin Calvey and Brian Maughan in addition to Blumert—had already voted to table the matter, but this day’s protest was more about theater than content. It was supposedly also about the First Amendment, but from the beginning it was clear that most of the members of the woke brigade knew little and cared less about actual civics. They sat sullenly, eyes rolling, sneers aplenty, through the pledge of allegiance and opening prayer. Asked to confine their comments to the matter at hand and limit them to one minute, few of them complied.
There was much hate for District Attorney David Prater, hate for Presiding Judge Ray Elliott, hate for police, hate for Calvey and Maughan, hate hate hate. One sign blasted Prater and his “maggots.” He was called a “bully, fascist, and terrorist.” The r-word was a given; everyone but the brigade members was racist.
Too often, it seems, the woke brigades are all about hate. Their vitriol is apparently unlimited. They don’t like the United States much either. “I find it very hard to be proud of my country now,” a woman from Yukon said.
“We will continue to disrupt,” another speaker shouted. The red-headed woman had devised a system of signals to control crowd reaction. Raised right hand with fist was cheers; raised left hand with snapping fingers was for applause. As each speaker moved to the podium—some 30 or more in all—it became apparent that many were reading from prepared scripts on their cell phones. No one knew who had prepared those texts, but their similarity indicated a common origin.
Some blasted the appropriation of federal CARES Act dollars to the county jail to deal with a COVID outbreak there. That money, a speaker shouted, should be “for us!”
Another turned to county staffers along the wall and told white people present to “go back to Nichols Hills or wherever.”
I asked the working mom behind me if she lived in Nichols Hills. “Ha!” she replied. Together we could probably qualify to clean houses and do yard work in the affluent suburb.
There was much about “black and brown people” who were, we were assured, being “murdered in the street.” Which of course they are in increasing numbers as many cities adopt the defunding of the police and law enforcement rollbacks urged by this very crowd.
Jess Eddy, a frequently arrested protester, briefly appeared to have something positive to say to Maughan, whose SHINE alternative-sentencing program was the first to implement criminal justice reform in Oklahoma County. But no. “He gets paid to run it!” Eddy shouted. (Yes, the elected county commissioners are not volunteers.)
There were familiar tropes: “Our country was founded on genocide and racism!” “Law enforcement began with slave patrols!”
Finally, the protest wound down. At the end there were a half-dozen protesters milling around at the front of the room, shouting slogans and occasionally grabbing the microphone, one even bursting into song. It resembled a third-grade field trip descending into shoving matches and spitwad fights after the teacher was hit by a bus. Finally, the red-headed woman rose and ordered them to file out.
A few days later, the same group returned to disrupt the meeting of the Jail Trust, the recipient of CARES Act funds. When Chairwoman Tricia Everest declined to hear the same litany of objections to the funds, protesters began screaming and cursing and shouting through bullhorns, at one point chanting “burn it down!”
Calvey said some advanced on him on the horseshoe and threatened to follow him home and attack his seven children. He later depicted them as “bullies.”
This is not a one-time aberration. The woke brigades are already in charge in Portland and Seattle, where riots are virtually a nightly occurrence. They are influencing policy in Chicago and New York, where crime and disorder are skyrocketing. Here in Oklahoma, they are well along in gutting the police department in Norman. They command at least three votes on the Oklahoma City Council and Blumert’s vote on the Board of County Commissioners; one more would give them control of county government.
Simply put, we are perilously close being ruled by the woke brigades on display recently at the courthouse.
Mike Brake is a journalist and writer who recently authored a centennial history of Putnam City Schools. A former reporter at The Oklahoman (his coverage of the moon landing earned a front-page byline on July 21, 1969), he served as chief writer for Gov. Frank Keating and for Lt. Gov. and Congresswoman Mary Fallin. He has also served as an adjunct instructor at OSU-OKC, and currently serves as public information officer for Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan.