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PM NewsBrief: Feb. 23, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Friday, February 23, 2024.

Oklahoma Supreme Court to hear oral arguments from 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivors

The two remaining survivors of the 1921 Race Massacre may get another shot at a reparations lawsuit after its dismissal last year.

According to court filings, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will allow oral arguments from the survivors’ legal team in April on whether to send their public nuisance case back to trial.

Lead attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons released a statement Wednesday thanking the court for their “swift attention” to the case.

In November, Solomon-Simmons and his team delivered what was their final brief to the court, emphasizing the urgency of their appeal.

“There is nowhere else for us to go," he said. "There is no going to the United States Supreme Court. There is no going to the federal court system. This is it.”

The two remaining survivors of the massacre, Viola Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield Randle, are seeking reparations, accusing the city and state of being complicit in the massacre.

Attorneys for the survivors argued Oklahoma’s public nuisance law applies to their clients because the massacre still has lasting effects for them and the Greenwood community to this day.

A Tulsa County district judge dismissed the case in July. A decision from the Supreme Court could decide if the dismissal was wrong.

Oral arguments are set for the afternoon of April 2.

Oklahoma nonprofit urges passage of bill requiring free menstrual products in schools

In Oklahoma schools, educators and local nonprofits often purchase menstrual products to help students access free supplies. That could change with the advancement of a bill that would require sixth through twelfth grade schools to provide free products.

House Bill 3329 was authored by Rep. Cynthia Roe (R-Lindsay) and Sen. Brenda Stanley (R-Midwest City), and it would make free menstrual products accessible to all students in school bathrooms, the nurse’s office and administrative offices.

Period OKC President Linley Smith said her nonprofit donated around 1 00,000 products to public schools last year. But there are still schools across the state that need them.

“We just had another school from Hammond, Oklahoma, who's going to start driving two hours each way to pick up products from us once a month,” Smith said. “It's just crazy. I wish we could do more, and so what we're trying to do is make changes on a state level.”

Those changes could significantly impact outcomes in Oklahoma, where access to period products could determine whether or not a student comes to school. One in four teen girls in the U.S. have missed class because they can’t access period supplies, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies.

“Imagine how much [this policy] would affect the absenteeism rate,” Smith said.

Currently, 25 states and Washington, D.C. have passed legislation to help students access free period products at school. Some include state funding to make them available, while others remain unfunded. Smith said she hopes Oklahoma becomes one of the states offering these products to students.

“Being able to take care of your basic needs in schools would make a huge difference, and make it an even safer place,” Smith said.

The bill was approved unanimously in the House A&B Education Subcommittee and is now waiting to be heard in the full A&B Committee before it can move to the House floor. Smith said Oklahomans can contact their legislators about the bill on Period OKC’s website.

Will Rogers World Airport to offer international flights

Will Rogers World Airport is one step closer to offering direct international flights in and out of Oklahoma City.

The Airport Trust approved a plan to create an international customs inspection center at the airport.

Officials say Customs and Border Protection will staff the international gate, which is expected to open by the end of this year.

The 12-million dollar project will be funded by airport revenues.

OU student will not face charges for display

An OU student who placed a suspicious package at The University of Oklahoma Friday, February 16th will not face any charges.

OUPD said the student came forward, and is protected under free speech.

A sign and package left behind Gaylord Hall led to the massive police presence and response that included the bomb squad.

Police Chief Nate Tarver told OU Daily the package was protest art and had no intent to harm.

The university says they are reviewing the incident and could address it through university policies.


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