OKLAHOMA CITY – As thousands of educators flocked to the Capitol for the third straight day, one Oklahoma agency says it is keeping a close eye on a few outside groups. However, no reports of threats made or vandalism committed by those groups have surfaced.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety announced that it has identified a “growing number of outside protest groups, not involved with the ongoing teachers’ rally” at the Capitol. DPS says the groups could be potentially violent or disruptive.
However, News 4 spoke to Capt. Paul Timmons with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Capitol security who said they have not gotten any reports of vandalism, or threats made against anyone.
He said the individuals under scrutiny have not yet made any moves to disrupt the walkout.
“Whatever they feel like they can get away with, anything to disrupt, cause disruption, cause problems with the organizers of the event, and draw attention to themselves,” said Capt. Timmons.
Officials say they are monitoring the situation closely for the safety of teachers, elected officials and others at the Capitol.
The release also said, “There have been threats made towards members of the Legislature and the Governor’s office.” The statement apparently confirming rumors of threats made by protesters.
“We’ve got folks that are blocking legislators’ doors and vandalism in the parking lots, is what I was told this morning,” said Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Wagoner. “And we’ve had several legislators that are receiving death threats.”
“In the past, some of these groups have been known to show violent behavior during non-violent rallies. There have been reports of threats made towards members of the Legislature and the Governor’s office,” a statement from DPS read.
OHP says there have been no reports of any threats made against anyone.