Over the weekend, the New York Times published a report on police violence in America, specifically taking a look at “Why so many traffic stops end in police killings.”
As part of the piece, the paper examined the profiteering side of policing, and how many cities and towns across the country use their police forces as revenue machines, targeting motorists for minor infractions that eventually lead to excessive fines, arrests, and, every now and then, a police chase and/or shooting.
You know, places like the venerable Oklahoma City suburb of Valley Brook, Oklahoma.
Here’s the lede from the Times report:
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A month after Governor Stitt kicked the can down the road, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted yesterday to recommend clemency for death row inmate Julius Jones, the guy who was convicted of murdering an Edmond man back in 1999.
Here are details via the AP:
Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board on Monday recommended that Gov. Kevin Stitt spare the life of Julius Jones, a man who has been on death row while proclaiming his innocence for more than two decades in the 1999 killing of a suburban Oklahoma City businessman.
The board recommended in 3-1 votes that Stitt grant Jones clemency and commute his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole after hearing from Jones, 41, who testified via video link from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Several members of the panel agreed they had doubts about the evidence that led to Jones’ conviction…
Jones’ fate now rests with Stitt, who must decide whether to let Jones be executed or commute his sentence.
Yep, it looks like Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt – an alleged compassionate Christian conservative who values the sanctity of life – literally has another person’s life in his hands. Based on how Stitt managed life or death decisions involving the Coronavirus pandemic and execution of John Grant, Jones has to be feeling very nervous right now.
This is doubly so when you look at our state’s troubled history with executions. Even in a state that loves to execute people who possibly murdered someone, it’s not uncommon for the Pardon and Parole Board to recommend clemency. It’s also not uncommon for the Governor to ignore them:
My gal-pal Jodie and I had decided on having a trashy enough lunch at a chili dog place near the bus station downtown. I should have known that this was going to be a problem when, as we went in, the sullen woman behind the counter was giving a seemingly homeless man the business, as he was asking her far too many questions about hot dogs.
As I tried to jump in here and there with a few questions of my own, she grew even more aggressive, to the point that Jodie and I slowly backed out and headed onto the pavement outside. As I began to wonder where to try next, she asked about the Latin American restaurant that’s right around the corner; that sounded good to me, I replied, out of options.
Turns out the Latin American eatery was long gone, instead replaced with a side-by-side outing: Chef Paul’s Place and, most intriguingly, Naija Wife Kitchen, 502 N. Hudson Ave.
While Chef Paul’s was more Southern cooking and definitely worth a future visit, it was Naija’s that caught my eye, as her ever-changing menu consisted of nothing but Nigerian food.
I was absolutely sold…