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PM NewsBrief: July 3, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for July 3, 2024.

Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Seek Reconsideration of Dismissed Lawsuit

The last two survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre are hoping to get the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reconsider its recent dismissal of their lawsuit.

The survivors’ attorneys are also calling for a federal probe.

At a news conference Tuesday, attorneys representing the two living Massacre survivors announced they’ve filed a petition to get their public nuisance case back to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

In an emotional plea, Lead Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons also called on President Biden and the U.S. Justice Department to begin a federal investigation.

“Well, now that we have been failed by the courts, now that we’ve been failed by the Congress, we’re calling upon President Biden to fulfill his promise to these survivors, to this community and to Black people throughout this nation," said Solomon-Simmons.

The state’s highest court dismissed the survivors’ lawsuit last month, which sought damages from the city of Tulsa and the county for the destruction of the neighborhood known as Black Wall Street.

One of the last two survivors, Lessie Benningfield Randle, attended Tuesday's event with her granddaughter.
She and fellow survivor Viola Fletcher are both more than 100 years old.

OKC Police Officer Charged With Four Felony Charges

An Oklahoma City police officer was charged in McClain County on multiple felony counts earlier this week.

The charges include kidnapping, domestic assault, and rape.

Oklahoma City police officer Ryan Stark was charged with four felony counts and one misdemeanor count on Monday.

He is accused of abusing and raping a woman in his Blanchard home.

The woman was granted an emergency protective order against Stark over the weekend.

One of his charges, domestic assault and battery by strangulation, will come with an increased maximum sentence after Nov. 1 of this year following new legislation which raised the maximum sentence for the crime from three years to 10.

Stark was released on a $200,000 bond and has been put on administrative leave.

Stark was previously placed on administrative leave a decade ago after fatally shooting a burglary suspect who stabbed his K-9 police dog.

The dog later died, and Stark was eventually cleared of his criminal charges.

Study Reveals Which States Oklahomans Travel to for Abortions Amid Near-Total Ban

A near-total abortion ban in Oklahoma means women are traveling across state lines to obtain an abortion.

The Guttmacher Institute’s monthly abortion provision study found Oklahomans are most frequently traveling to Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Illinois to obtain an abortion.

In 2023, an estimated 4,000 women got abortions in these states. Over 80% of them occurred in Kansas.

Broken Arrow Sen. Nathan Dahm introduced an abortion travel ban this spring against anyone who helps a minor obtain an abortion, but a committee never took it up.

The Guttmacher Institute’s study will continue tracking abortions provided by a clinician in states without a near-total ban each month.

Its data does not include self-managed abortions, where people obtain abortion pills outside of a clinician.

State Higher Education System Leader Plans To Retire

The head of Oklahoma’s higher education system is retiring.

Higher Education Chancellor Allison Garrett announced her retirement will be effective in January 2025. She’s been chancellor since November 2021.

The chancellor leads Oklahoma’s higher education system, which includes 25 public colleges and universities. They also lead higher education policy in the state.

Dennis Casey is the chairperson of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. He highlighted accomplishments he says were achieved under Garrett, including an increase in the number of college graduates.

The nonprofit news outlet Oklahoma Voice reports the regents’ board has not yet stated its plan for finding Garrett’s successor.

She says she looks forward to spending more time with her family.

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