As Norman City Council’s Feb. 9 election approaches, the Norman Collective for Racial Justice called for candidates to pledge against accepting dark money or political donations from Norman’s Fraternal Order of the Police.
In a Saturday afternoon release, NC4RJ wrote it is the candidate's duty to “let … residents know that their seats cannot be bought” by “moneyed special interests.”
“Elected officials in Norman must reject political donations from the Fraternal Order of Police and any other outside interests who seek to use dark money to undermine our local democracy and derail community efforts towards transparency, accountability and an infrastructure of public safety that does not rely on violence and retribution,” NC4RJ wrote in the release.
The collective demonstrated support for late Ward 2 Council member David Perry in the release, who said “the most powerful party in the city (of Norman) is the Money Party … whose priority is preserving their own wealth and control.”
NC4RJ recognized workers’ right to unionize in the face of poor working conditions, unfair wages or to gain the right to work in Oklahoma. The police, they wrote, “are not like other workers” as they unionize in the name of “profit over people” and “continue their bloated dominance of our municipal budget.”
“(Police unions) have power that average citizens don’t: to use violence without being punished, including being legally allowed to kill people on the job … (and bargaining) over the content of internal disciplinary procedures,” NC4RJ wrote in the release. “Police unions use their legal powers to block attempts at police reform and oversight … and use their financial power to attack and slander any politicians who are sympathetic to even moderate reforms.”
The Washington Post exemplified a tie between police unions and violence through numerous cases, including police union president Bob Kroll who warned against rushing to judge officers who were responsible for the death of George Floyd, despite video evidence on social media.
NC4RJ also highlighted a pattern of Norman’s FOP targeting female council members, including the release of Ward 8 Council member Alex Scott’s personal information and its support of recall efforts for Ward 1 Council member Kate Bierman, Ward 3 Council member Alison Petrone and former Ward 5 Council member Sereta Wilson. It emphasized that “outside influences should not determine our municipal budget or the outcome of our local elections.”
Norman’s FOP could face contempt charges after releasing an unfiled copy of Carter County Associate District Judge Thomas K. Baldwin’s court decision concerning the council’s June 16 vote to reduce the police department’s proposed budget increase by $865,000 and reallocate funds.
The order claimed the meeting’s agenda was a violation of the Open Meetings Act and voter-approved Public Safety Sales Tax, and Baldwin deemed the agenda “deceptively worded or materially obscured.”
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation recently agreed to investigate Norman City Council’s alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act following a misdemeanor complaint. If councilmembers are convicted, each one could face up to a $500 fine or up to one year in county jail, according to the Norman Transcript.
NC4RJ wrote in the release that “Norman residents calling for police reform and accountability must have a voice in local government.” The collective posted a reminder to register to vote before Jan. 15 and contact city councilmembers asking them to pledge to reject donations from Norman’s FOP.