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TULSA, OKLA. – Leaning on the historical precedent which led to the establishment of Jim Crow laws, United States Senator James Lankford (R-OK) attempted to disenfranchise millions of voters in historically Black and Brown communities. Many from the historic Greenwood District community are calling for Lankford’s immediate resignation.
In a joint statement from Senators Lankford, Johnson, Cruz, Daines, Kennedy, Blackburn, Braun, Senators-Elect Lummis, Marshall, Hagerty, Tuberville, the senators argued that the 15-member electoral commission established in response to the contested 1876 presidential election laid a proper foundation on which they stood proudly. However, the result of that commission, the Compromise of 1877, led to the end of the Reconstruction Era and the ushering in of Jim Crow laws.
Lankford chose to align with precedent that catalyzed the creation of nearly a century-long codified system of racial discrimination – a system which would affect the very citizens for which the commission seeks to honor. “The Jim Crow Era institutionalized White supremacy and led to compounding traumas that have reverberated throughout the lives of Black Americans for generations,” said Black Wall Street Times editor-in-chief Nehemiah Frank. “The senator’s continued involvement with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission would be acutely disrespectful to the victims and descendants of the massacre. We demand Senator James Lankford resign from the commission immediately. Restorative justice is not possible if we choose to placate White elected officials who only portray themselves as allies when they feel it is politically expedient.”
Conversations surrounding Lankford’s seditious behavior have led some elected officials to call for his resignation from the United States Senate as well. In an exclusive interview with the Black Wall Street Times, State Representative Monroe Nichols (OK-72), who also sits on the commission, expressed the belief that Senator Lankford violated his oath of office and has a duty to step down. “Senator Lankford peddled a set of dangerous lies with regard to the 2020 elections and, in doing so, played a central role in the riot we saw Wednesday,” Representative Nichols said. He continued, “the Senator aligned himself with Confederate Flag waving traitors and a President so consumed with retaining power he incited an attack on the Congress of the United States. As citizens, we are owed truth and faithfulness to our country from our elected officials. What we got from our junior senator is falsehoods and, as Senator Inhofe put it, a violation of his oath of office. Senator Lankford has proven that he believes lies and political expediency are far more important than facts and patriotism – he does not belong in high office or on a commission honoring the victims of the 1921 massacre. He should resign from both.”
Within the commission, calls for Lankford’s resignation are widening. “Every day since the assault on the United States Capitol, Senator Lankford has decided to repeatedly abdicate his duty to the people of Oklahoma by hiding behind his tepid repudiation of domestic terrorism,” former Oklahoma State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre said. McIntyre, who sits on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission alongside Lankford, said, “I, along with countless other Oklahomans, watched with disgust as our senator attempted to gaslight the American people with pearl-clutching outrage. Just hours after he stood on the floor of Congress using racist precedent to pander to the President, he expected us to believe he was surprised by the riot he helped incite. I call on all current and former elected officials and concerned citizens to join in demanding Senator James Lankford resign from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission.”
Oklahoma Democratic Party leadership have also condemned the actions of Oklahoma’s entire congressional delegation. “While we are thankful that our Republican Senators and Congressional Representatives are safe, we recognize that their public stance and comments helped fuel the flames of insurrection,” said Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairwoman Alicia Andrews. “The actions of Senator Lankford and Representatives Mullen, Hern, Bice, Lucas and Cole have promulgated a lie being spread by a deeply flawed man who we have as President for another few days. They are not leaders. They are following the lead of the wrong person and, as a result, have blood on their hands today.”
In the days since the attack, jarring videos of insurrectionists attempting to breach entries to the Capitol have surfaced. In one video, the rioters are seen crushing a Metropolitan police officer in a door; blood began oozing from his mouth as the rioters attempted to rip the gas mask from his face. In another, Capitol police officers are holding rioters back as they chant “hang (vice-president) Mike Pence.” There are reports of two officer fatalities, four other fatalities and numerous other casualties. In another disturbing video, a Capitol police officer is seen being dragged headfirst down the steps of the Capitol while Trump supporters beat the officer – at times using American flags to assault the officer. (It is unknown at this time if the officer seen in this video is Officer Brian Sicknick, who authorities have confirmed was murdered by the mob.)
Senator Lindsey Graham was also caught on video being verbally assaulted by a throng of far-right extremists calling him a “traitor” as he walked through the airport with his security detail.
This is the behavior that Senator Lankford emboldened when he repeatedly supported and perpetuated unfounded claims and conspiracy theories while attempting to curry favor with far-right extremists. He displayed a true disregard for his oath of office and the responsibility he has to his constituents. He must immediately step down from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission and resign from his position as our United States senator.
The Black Wall Street Times requested comment from State Senator Kevin Matthews (OK-11), chairman of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission. Matthews’ district is home to Black Wall Street and many descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Sen. Matthews did not respond to the request for comment.