Listen to this article here
GREENWOOD Dist.–102 years after the city sanctioned a massacre against Black residents of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, an elementary school has experienced two bomb threats in two days.
The bomb threats at Ellen Ochoa Elementary School come after months of Republican State Superintendent Ryan Walters verbally condemning diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in public education. The bomb threats, which Tulsa Police have confirmed weren’t credible, also come ahead of a Thursday vote on the accreditation of TPS.
Walters has singled out Tulsa Public Schools, the district with the second-highest Black student population, for a possible state takeover similar to what Texas has done to Houston Independent School District.
Like Ron DeSantis in Florida, Walters has spent months railing against DEI, lack of prayer in schools and what he calls “woke indoctrination.” His threats to takeover or even dissolve the Tulsa Public Schools district has led TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist to resign in an effort to preserve local control.
The divisive campaign of contempt has reached a new level, transcending from right-wing talking points at school board meetings to bomb threats at schools.
Altered Tiktok video targeting school librarian leads to bomb threats
Union Public School’s Ellen Ochoa Elementary in south Tulsa is reeling from the second bomb threat in two days. Last week, the school’s librarian Kirby Mackenzie posted a harmless video on social media.
In the video, she enters a classroom while dancing to a Ludacris song. Tiktok users have created a video challenge to Luda’s “Back Again” song. In her video, Mackenzie enters the classroom, vibing to the song while holding a book in her hand. The caption read “My only radical agenda is teaching kids to love books and be kind.”
The video was meant to make fun of state leaders who have banned books and launched attacks against teaching any history they believe will make White students feel uncomfortable.
Over the weekend, the far-right extremist account “Libs of Tiktok” spread a misleading version of the video on social media claiming librarian Kirby Mackenzie was spreading a radical liberal agenda to kids at Ellen Ochoa. In the 16-second video, they cut out the part of the caption that read “teaching kids to love books and be kind.”
By early Tuesday morning, someone had emailed a bomb threat to both her home and her school. School was delayed until Tulsa Police Department brought in bomb-sniffing K9s, ultimately giving the all-clear.
Yet hours after the bomb threat, State Superintendent Ryan Walters, who claims to want to protect kids, reposted the misleading Tiktok video in an attempt to further rile up his far-right base against public schools.
Terrorizing public schools for a political agenda
A day after the first bomb threat, an email sent to media outlets alerted the community to a second bomb threat at the same school and again at Mackenzie’s home. Yet this threat went even further. The second email threatened to bomb schools across the district if the so-called “woke” agenda doesn’t cease.
TPD responded to the threat just before 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
“After a brief shelter-in-place while staff searched the campus, normal classes were resumed. Officers determined there was no credible threat to the students or campus,” TPD Media Relations Specialist Preston Stanley told The Black Wall St. Times.
Despite the two threats in two days, Supt. Ryan Walters has not taken down the video on his government profile.
Meanwhile, librarian Kirby Mackenzie is left wondering how she can protect herself and her students.
Walters “adds validation” to right-wing extremists
Speaking on background, a close friend of Mackenzie told The Black Wall St. Times she’s being put in an impossible position to either resign and protect students or stay and risk potential harm to them. With over a decade of experience supporting students on their reading journey, students are left in limbo over the future of their beloved librarian.
The close friend also said that while Supt. Walters may not be directly responsible, his decision to share the video has added validation to those seeking to cause harm.
While Democratic state lawmakers and a few Republicans have publicly condemned Walters’ rhetoric, he’s shown no signs of standing down from his efforts to reshape public education into his own personal Christian nationalist regime.
Over a century after the city and state participated in the destruction of Greenwood, students today are left wondering if their school district will be destroyed as well.
The Black Wall Street Times will be attending Thursday’s State School Board meeting at 9:30 a.m. in Oklahoma City. To view a livestream of the meeting, visit our Facebook page.
Follow us for updates.