An Oklahoma mayor apologized after her husband was caught wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe for a Halloween “prank.”
Cary Kent Sharp — the husband of Lahoma, Oklahoma, mayor Theresa Sharp — was one of several men dressed in KKK robes while standing around a bonfire with a cross, KFOR reports. A woman called police after discovering the men, and a photo of them quickly went viral.
“It was a prank gone bad,” Theresa told Enid News, according to KFOR.
"I was out trick-or-treating with my son, and I in no way support the activities that occurred," she added.
Cary said no harm was meant by their actions. He was asked by Garfield County police to refrain from burning crosses, though he denied that anything along those lines took place.
“There was no cross that burned,” he said. “It was held behind the fire to look like it was burning, but there was no fire. The pictures we’ve seen claimed they were burning one, but there was not one burnt.”
Sheriff Jerry Niles released a statement via Facebook after the story went viral.
The Halloween night incident in Lahoma, while unacceptable by me and the members of my staff, is still a matter of poor decision making on the part of several adult males.
This much is known to me. I received information on the incident and dispatched a deputy to check it out. That deputy was already in the area. Lahoma PD had received a complaint from a party, who was upset over the matter of subjects in white robes burning a cross. Officers made contact with the males on their property telling them the activity was in poor taste and to stop.
Social media comments suggested that arrests should have been made. We must have a violation of the law to make arrests, as the fire was legal, the consumption of alcohol was on private property, and no one had stated anyone made threats of violence acts to the deputy at that time.
The Constitution of the United States guarantees certain rights including the right of speech. It doesn’t say the speech has to be in good taste, of common sense or that we have a consensus of agreement. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. wrote in a decision that “if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.”
While I may disagree with that, I am sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, of the State of Oklahoma and the laws enacted therein. It doesn’t mean I have to like any symbol of hatred, just have to monitor it for violations of the law.