CORRECTION: Pastor Scobey was arrested by Oklahoma Highway Patrol, not Oklahoma City Police as previously reported.
OKLAOMA CITY (KFOR) – The pastor of an Oklahoma City church renowned for its many charitable acts was arrested for standing in the street outside the Governor’s Mansion in support of Julius Jones.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers arrested Pastor Derrick Scobey of Ebenezer Baptist Church at around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Scobey was arrested for standing in the street, in what he described as an act of “civil disobedience” in support of Jones, who is scheduled to be executed on Thursday.
“So, they can do whatever they want to do when I go out in the middle of Northeast 23rd and it will be fine,” Scobey said. “That’s what’s called civil disobedience.”
Scobey invited fellow demonstrators to join him in civil disobedience, which is the act of peaceful protest frequently used by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his quest for civil rights.
“Keep this in mind, you certainly could go to jail, but I’m willing to take that risk,” the pastor said.
Officers asked Scobey to clear the street multiple times, then arrested him.
Ebenezer Baptist Church, through Scobey’s leadership and the good work of his parishioners, has given hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food and furnishings to community members in need in recent years.
Scobey urged his fellow demonstrators to be careful as police took him away in handcuffs.
“Please move yourself behind the barricade,” he implored.
Jones’ supporters remained peaceful on Northeast 23rd Street, chanting for justice.
“People are hurting right now,” said Jabee Williams, a close friend to the Jones family. “There was no word [from Gov. Stitt] and we want to know why we haven’t heard anything.”
Williams asked the question he and other Jones supporters are tormented by: “Why is Julius Jones going to be executed tomorrow?”
Jones was sentenced to death in 2002 for the July 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. Jones pleaded not guilty and has since maintained his innocence.
People across the state and throughout the nation are awaiting Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision on whether he will commute Jones’ death sentence or maintain the execution scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended commutation for Jones with a 3-1 vote on Sept. 13. However, Stitt announced two weeks later that he would not accept the Board’s recommendation for commutation, saying “a clemency hearing, not a commutation hearing, is the appropriate venue for our state to consider death row cases.”
The Pardon and Parole Board held a clemency hearing on Nov. 2 and voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones.
Scobey said on Tuesday that he spoke with Stitt’s Chief of Communications, Charlie Hannema, and General Counsel Trevor Pemberton about how the governor was doing while deciding Jones’ fate. Scobey said they told him Stitt was praying for guidance on the decision.
KFOR reached out to the Howell family on Wednesday, asking if they wanted to provide a statement as Oklahoma and much of the nation awaits Stitt’s decision. They sent a brief response, saying they’re focusing on being with each other and are not releasing a statement at this time.