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PM NewsBrief: Feb. 27, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Monday, Feb. 27, 2023.

Severe Storms Impact Thousands of Oklahomans

Severe thunderstorms brought strong straight-line winds and multiple tornados to the central plains late Sunday night. The storms damaged homes and left thousands without power.

As the line of storms moved across the plains, it generated roughly 50 tornado warnings in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, including a damaging tornado that reportedly stayed on the ground for 15 miles east of Norman. The National Weather Service confirmed 114 mile-per-hour winds in the Texas panhandle.

The storm blew over powerlines, trees and tractor trailers, but injury numbers are unclear. Utilities companies say nearly 70,000 households in Oklahoma lost power, mostly in the western and central parts of the state.

For updates on power outages in your area, visit poweroutage.us.

City of Norman addresses storm damage

Norman city officials held a press briefing this morning following last night's severe weather that left a number of homes and businesses damaged.

Chief Kevin Foster with the city Police Department said, as of this morning, 12 weather-related injuries were reported, however, none of them were life-threatening. Foster says help is available for those impacted.

The city has set up a resource center at the 12th Ave. Rec Center located at 1701 12th Ave. NE.

The Red Cross and the Health Department will both be there to staff that. City officials remind residents to stay away from downed power lines. Updates on road closures and other storm related news will be posted on the city's website at NormanOK.gov.

Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Renew Push for Reparations

In a video message at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s discussion in Tulsa on Saturday, Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia announced in a video message that he plans to reintroduce the Tulsa-Greenwood Massacre Claims Accountability Act.

The bill would provide the remaining survivors of the massacre and the descendants of survivors and those killed access to the courts despite statute of limitations

Today’s community conversation about building Black power, building power in Black Tulsa, is a topic that just won’t go away until it’s finally dealt with.

As many as 300 people may have been killed in the race massacre, in which a white mob razed Tulsa’s Greenwood District, considered at the time to be a prosperous Black neighborhood, in 1921. The three living survivors of the massacre are currently suing for reparations.

Inmate Dies at the Cleveland County Jail

The first detainee death in the Cleveland County jail of 2023 occurred late last week.

44-year-old Joe Allen Sims Jr. was found unresponsive from an apparent hanging in his cell at the Cleveland County jail on Friday afternoon.

The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations are investigating his death and the Medical Examiner’s Office will determine an official cause of death.

This follows the resignation of two high-ranking jail officials last month - Deputy Chief Scott Sebrook, who was in charge of overseeing all jail operations, and Major Dennis Hansen, who was an administrator in charge of support services. The month prior, one woman was found dead in her jail cell and another died after being transported to a hospital for a medical emergency. Their deaths are also under investigation.

Capitol Insider: Attorney General Withdraws Opinion for Misusing Religious Liberty

During the latest edition of Capitol Insider, KGOU general manager Dick Pryor talks with Quorum Call Publisher Shawn Ashley about public funding for religious charter schools, bills to crack down on drag performances, and efforts to ‘box-in’ new state schools superintendent Ryan Walters. Ashley also looks ahead to the coming week.

"Thursday is the deadline for bills to be heard in a committee of their chamber of origin. House bills and joint resolutions in a House committee. And Senate bills and joint resolutions in a Senate committee. It will be a fast-paced week as members work to move their proposals on to the next step in the legislative process," said Ashley.

Stay up to date with the latest in Oklahoma politics, policy and government with our weekly Capitol Insider podcast available now on KGOU.org and wherever you get your podcasts.

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