If you live in Oklahoma, a group called Save Our State wants you on lockdown. In the name of keeping us safe, the call sign of every good statist. This group has called for the governor to issue a full mandatory shelter in place. A quarantine that would completely shut down the entire state clear into next month. According to Save Our State, they are a non-political group that has as its goal to call on Governor Stitt to issue a statewide shelter in place.
SOS (Save Our State) Description From Their Facebook
“This is a non-partisan, non-political group. We are here because we believe that, in this critical moment, we have to come together and call on our elected leaders to do what is best for our state. Governor Stitt must issue a “Shelter-in-place” order similar to Ohio, Louisiana, and New York NOW in order to save thousands of lives. If Oklahoma fails to act, the consequences for our healthcare workers, first responders, and our most vulnerable will be devastating.”Save Our State
The group presented a petition to the Governor that lists four main demands.
Follow the lead of 42 other governors and numerous mayors by amending your “safer at home” policy to include all Oklahomans across the state
Honor your commitment to transparency and communication and protect public safety by clarifying the definition of essential businesses and laying out precise requirements for businesses that remain open during this crisis
Adhere to your promise to be ‘data-driven’ by extending the executive order until at least May 18th (after Oklahoma’s projected peak) and making a commitment to reassess before lifting the order.
Work with your legislative colleagues to leverage the state’s rainy day fund to ensure that cuts to essential services are not made in the middle of a statewide emergency.Save Our State
According to multiple comments made by the group, the Governor’s response to this pandemic hasn’t gone far enough. Our shelter in place has no teeth and needs stricter guidance. They say our efforts need to be on par with states like Ohio, Louisiana, and New York. The problem with this critique is we’re not on par with any of those states. These states have some of the highest spread of COVID 19 cases in the country. New York currently has 240k+ cases, Ohio has 10K, and Louisiana has 23K. Oklahoma currently has around 2500 cases.
By Save Our State’s very standard Oklahoma hasn’t done enough, yet we still find ourselves as Oklahomans bending the curve. Maybe you could make the case for a statewide lockdown three weeks ago, but the state of Oklahoma is past that point.
Oklahoma currently has only 228 (Apr-18) people that are hospitalized. The number of hospitalizations has been so low, hospitals in the state have been forced to close. Responding to this, the governor has been forced to bring back elective surgeries in the state. To top that, the majority of the people who’ve caught the virus have recovered. Stitt has sought a measured approach, understanding that one size does not fit all. Stitt implemented a strategy that would allow mayors and local officials to tailor standards that fit them. Contrast that against the actions of other governors this was the correct and proportional response. SOS disagrees with this approach and would rather see a draconian lockdown reminiscent of the state of Michigan.
The SOS position isn’t a moderate position. It’s a position based more on fear rather than evidence, overreaction over proportionality. Partisan motives may also be a motivating factor.
Who is SOS?
SOS is a private Facebook Group that currently has 54,000 members. The Page was started on March 23, 2020. The group claims to be non-partisan but it is obvious by the comments from its followers and the background of its creators that SOS has a leftward bent.
It’s not clear who the leader of SOS is but the Facebook Group has four administrators; April Brooks, Hollis McAllister, Laura Bellis, and Nate Morris.
Nate Morris is an educator from Tulsa. He is also a contributor at the Black Wall Street Times, a news site that focuses on racial issues. His bio on the site describes Nate as: “an advocate for educational equity as well as racial and social justice throughout Tulsa and the nation as a whole.” Tulsa residents may remember Mr. Morris from an incident last February when he shared a video to Facebook. He claimed a black woman had been racially profiled by police after simply going into a predominantly white Tulsa bakery asking for a ride. This led to the Tulsa police releasing the bodycam footage from this event. Police claim they were responding to a call of a woman trespassing and aggressively panhandling. The woman was later arrested after an investigation found she had lied about her identity to the Police and was actually wanted for “harassing people outside businesses for weeks.“
Tulsa Police Sgt Weakley was quoted about Morris’s part in the incident saying, “It was a very broad misrepresentation of facts,” and that “Everything in the claim was not true.”
The story also went on to say, “Weakley said he was shocked when Nate Morris, a Tulsa resident, who has written for the Black Wall Street Times, shared a post on his personal Facebook page.”
Mr. Morris issued a lengthy response in part saying, “In response to the President of the Fraternal Order of Police’s call for my public apology in an open letter: This is Tulsa, Oklahoma. We are a city with a past rooted in racism. We may wish to believe that racism remained in the past, but it did not. It is still very much a part of our daily society – and no one is immune to it. Racial bias plays a role in each of our lives on a daily basis – whether we are carrying that bias or receiving its affects. And we, especially white people, we have a responsibility to call it out when we see it in others and in ourselves. When a Black woman walks into a primarily white business asking for support and ends up in front of three police cars and a national television show, it is undeniable that racial bias was a factor.”
Bellis is an Executive Director at the Take Control Initiative, a George Kaiser Family Foundation. It was created “to improve access to contraception by providing education and outreach for all methods and free clinical services for IUDs and the arm implant.” She serves as a chair on the Human Rights Commission for the city of Tulsa. She is also a founding leader of TULSA (The United League for Social Action) a social justice group. They describe themselves as “a multiracial coalition of concerned Tulsans coming together to address racial profiling, overpolicing, and police brutality.”
In an interview on Hill TV, Bellis criticized Governor Stitt’s response to the virus. The Hill article said “Asked by host Krystal Ball whether early downplaying of the virus by President Trump and some conservative media figures could have led to a partisan split in how seriously Americans take the threat, Bellis said, “I think that’s a contributing factor, and then also our governor himself hasn’t taken this as seriously as he should,” saying Stitt has shown “a certain levity about this that wasn’t appropriate.”
In light of all this, it is clear that the mission of Save Our State is not only regressive but extreme. This isn’t about the people behind it; it is about pushing back on the fearfully regressive mindset that can only find solace in the ever-tightening boot of the state. I don’t doubt there are plenty of concerned people in this group but the partisan nature of its founders ought to give pause and raise important questions as to the motivations of these individuals.
This isn’t about an argument of jobs versus lives; it is an argument about lives versus lives. We don’t quite know yet what opening up the state will look like, but we do know what the opposite action will bring. An extended lock down the type of which SOS is calling for would lead to a recession; the likes of which we’ve probably never seen. The economic results of a government caused calamity such as this, would have a negative cost to thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people in this state. This would not only hurt their means of making a living but the poverty created by this would have further negative health outcomes, depression, suicide, and criminal behavior.
There is a risk associated with either path we choose. This is the nature of life choices. If you don’t like the risk associated with this you can choose to stay home.