Updated as of 4/22/2023 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Things are not looking-up for the Oklahoma Sheriff caught on tape along with other local officials discussing lynching Black people and murdering reporters. In new audio released by the McCurtain Gazettee-News, Sheriff Kevin Clardy brags about physically confronting the local District Attorney Mark Matloff .
The full audio is now available if you want to listen. And wow, does Sheriff Clardy come off even worse. Clardy can be heard saying that he went to the district attorney’s house “to whoop his ass” and stood in the doorway blocking his exit.
Clardy and the Sheriff’s office haven’t issued anything resembling an apology since the tape has been released, and have questioned the validity of the recording. (The Root has not independently verified the tapes.) Instead of backing down, the McCurtain Sheriff’s Department has launched an investigation into the reporter who released the recording, Chris Willingham.
The only person who took something resembling accountability was McCurtain County Commissioner Mark Jennings, who made some of the most inflammatory comments. He reportedly sent a handwritten resignation letter to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt. However, Jennings isn’t the only one being asked to resign. Sheriff Kevin Clardy, his investigator Alicia Manning, commissioner Robert Beck, commissioners’ secretary Heather Carter, and jail administrator Larry Hendrix were also caught on the tape.
What Else Was in the Leaked Oklahoma Audio Tapes?
Before we even get into the racism, the audio starts off deeply unsettling. The group begins by joking about starting a barbecue with the remains of a recently deceased woman, Danette Stowe, who died in a fire after attempting to rescue her two dogs.
From there, Commissioner Jennings begins to reminisce over the days of lynchings. “I’m gonna tell you something,” Jennings said, according to audio captured by the McCurtain Gazette-News, and shared by The Hill. “If it was back in the day, when … Alan Marshton would take a damn Black guy and whoop their ass and throw him in the cell? I’d run for f— Sheriff.”
He goes further after someone reminds him that lynching Black people is no longer acceptable. “I know,” Jennings responds. “Take them down to Mud Creek and hang them up with a damn rope. But you can’t do that anymore. They got more rights than we got.”
Jennings and Clardy then discuss murdering two journalists, including one of the reporters who would go on to break this story. “I know where two big deep holes are here if you ever need them,” said Jennings. Clardy added that he “had an excavator” who could do the job. Later in the audio, Jennings mentions that he knows “two or three hit men” who could get the job done.
The Backlash To The Leaked Oklahoma Tapes
Understandably, there has been some public backlash to the leaked audio. Governor Witt has asked everyone involved in the incident to resign. He’s also requested that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations investigate.
The Oklahoma chapter of the NAACP has also gotten involved. They’re calling for everyone caught on the tape to resign. The sheriff’s office is also facing a wrongful death lawsuit after the newspaper that released the audio also released video of a man who died after being stunned by McCurtain Sheriff’s deputies.
So far, outside of Jennings, no one else involved has resigned. But with investigations and calls for their resignation piling up, it’s unclear how long these officials can continue to escape accountability