Oklahoma County Jail Trust accused of violating Open Meetings Act at first completely virtual meeting

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Monday’s meeting of the Oklahoma County Jail Trust, the first to be held only online, had to be postponed following audio issues.  

“We absolutely were in violation of the open meeting act,” Francie Ekwerekwu, a member of the Oklahoma County Jail Trust, said on Monday. 

“I am concerned about the legality of this meeting,” another member is heard saying during Monday’s virtual meeting. 

For the first time during the pandemic, the jail trust met solely online, with no one appearing in person. 

The door of their usual meeting room was locked and the room was roped off. 

“I do not know the reasoning behind why they cancelled the in person portion of the meeting today,” Ekwerekwu said. 

The online meeting was plagued with problems, including serious audio issues. Many members of the public, and media, complained they couldn’t hear the meeting. 

When audio was working briefly during public comment, someone is heard saying “shut up” while a local activist, and member of the county jail action committee, was speaking. 

County Clerk David Hooten confirmed to News 4 that person works in his office and said “it is being handled.” 

“If in fact she was told to shut up, or something to that effect, I do not think that is right,” Ekwerekwu said. 

The meeting was eventually postponed. 

Chair of the trust, Tricia Everest, sent News 4 this statement: 

“I applaud the selection of Attorney General Garland and grateful that he is returning to the State on the anniversary of the Bombing especially as he played a role in the prosecution. I invite the caucus and any legislators to come tour, see the changes and plans, and discuss their concerns and comments. We will always cooperate with any oversight.”

“What was most concerning was after advisement that they were in violation of the law, after numerous advisements, they did nothing until the chorus of our activism became so loud that they had to address it,” Jess Eddy, a local activist, said after the meeting. 

The meeting has been postponed until Wednesday at 3 p.m. Everest told News 4 the meeting room will be open. 

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