Protests continue as jail trust accepts CARES Act funds

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Numerous protests have occurred since the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (more commonly known as the jail trust) voted to accept $34 million in CARES Act money, plus another $3 million. 

“I can’t wait to watch your a**** get sued,” a protester yelled during a jail trust meeting Monday. 

On Monday, the Oklahoma County jail trust accepted millions of dollars in CARES Act funds allocated to them by the board of county commissioners for COVID-19 response at the jail. 

“This is so crazy to me. We have people who are homeless. We have people who have children who they cannot feed,” one citizen said during public comment. 

“You have no right to this money and we demand that you give it back,” another citizen said. 

Protesters packed the room once again, as they did last week, when the trust voted to accept $3 million in CARES Act funds for a “Hero Bonus” for jail employees. 

This Monday, the Trust accepted an additional $3 million in CARES dollars for the improvement of air circulation and plumbing at the jail. 

They also discussed an additional $34 million in CARES funding allocated to them. 

Trustee Frances Ekwerekwu suggested deferring the item until the trust receives a list of areas where the money could be spent at the jail. 

“Defer the vote, defer the vote,” protesters chanted. 

Ultimately, the item passed 7-2, followed by a lively protest in the halls outside the room. 

Protesters even followed the media to another room while reporters interviewed Tricia Everest, chanting “Tricia is a coward.” 

“We know that we are on a very quick timeline,” Everest said. 

That’s due to a December 30th deadline for the money to be spent. 

Everest said jail staff will now be compiling a list of how all of that money could be used to combat COVID-19 at the jail. 

“Part of that resolution is that the trustees receive that itemized list well before the September 21st meeting. So, we’ll make sure the public gets that as well,” Everest said. 

Everest said some of that money will likely be used to create a safer reception area for jail partners and guests amid the pandemic. 

She also reiterated that if it is determined the jail does not need all of that money, the remaining funds will be sent back to the county. 

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