Tulsa Officials React To Calls To Fire Employee With Alleged KKK Ties: 'Our Hands Are Tied'

Over the past couple of days, Tulsa has reacted in various ways from outrage to support of this decision.

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| February 15 2019,

8:09 pm

According to Hate Trackers, a site that has tracked hate groups for more than a decade, longtime Tulsa County Clerk Office employee Bondell “Bonnie” Kukla and her husband, Stephen Kukla, are “white supremacists and long-time members of the Ku Klux Klan" who regularly travel throughout various Klan chapters in the South, "preaching, speaking and entertaining through song.”

In an email obtained by The Frontier, Tulsa County Court Clerk Donald Newberry addressed Kukla's employment, stating that Kukla has the "protection of free speech" although he does not condone or believe discrimination "has any place within the workspace."

“At the same time, I and all that work for this office, have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, part of which is the protection of free speech," said Newberry. "If at any time I find that someone is not performing their duty to uphold the Constitution the situation would be dealt with according to the offense."

County Commissioner Karen Keith reiterated those sentiments stating that county lawyers said it would not be possible to fire Kukla based on her alleged KKK membership.

“Our hands are tied,” Keith said. “There’s just not much Tulsa County can do.”

The County Clerk is one of eight elected county officials in every county in Oklahoma and is responsible for a wide range of duties mandated by the laws of the state of Oklahoma including land records and other real estate documents in the county.

Over the past couple of days, Tulsa has reacted in various ways from outrage to support of this decision. 



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In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, Sharon Bishop-Baldwin, a board member for the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, said that "if this woman's bigotry isn't seeping into her job performance, leave her alone."

I don’t support calls to fire a county employee who belongs to the KKK. Are her apparent beliefs deplorable to me? Of course. Just as someone who can be fired in 30 states solely because I’m a lesbian, I believe that people should be fired (or not) based on merit. I have worked with many good people whose personal and political beliefs could not have been more different from my own.  But they were great reporters, editors, photographers, designers, co-workers. If this woman’s bigotry isn’t seeping into her job performance, leave her alone.  Slippery slopes can trip us ALL.

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According to The Frontier, Bishop-Baldwin, along with her wife, Mary Bishop-Baldwin, filed a lawsuit that overturned Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban in 2014.

Charity Marcus, a political consultant, disagreed with Bishop-Baldwin saying that advocates of LGBTQ equality should stand in support of African-American struggles, as well. 

For Sharon to legitimize this woman working in our government is hypocrisy and cultural appropriation at its finest. For OKEQ, to not come out and condemn her statement (as she sits on their board) and distance themselves from her, just goes to show that the lgbt struggle is not for African American lgbt. OKEQ is not concerned about the intersectionality of the African American lgbt experience. They are only concerned with using our struggle to further their agenda. 

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According to The Frontier, former Democratic House of Representatives candidate Shay White was taken away by ambulance after allegedly vandalizing the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in protest to Bishop-Baldwin's statement.

In a Facebook video, White can be seen outside of the Equality Center protesting where she recorded herself over several videos, taking clothes from her car and throwing them around the front door of the building. She later entered the building and began throwing on the ground pamphlets, donation forms, voter registration forms and other items distributed by the Equality Center.

According to The Frontier, Tulsa police arrested White for trespassing and malicious mischief. The Equality Center said it did not wish to press charges. 

“We know this has left our constituents concerned and confused. Oklahomans For Equality is committed to an internal and organization-wide examination of leadership and programs to address any bias,” the Equality Center posted to its Facebook page.


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