A republican congressman from Oklahoma allegedly directed police to have a woman removed from a town hall meeting on March 31 for waving a red piece of paper above her head.
In a video that has garnered more than one million views, Congressman Markwayne Mullin, who is an enrolled Cherokee, is seen telling the woman in the front row to “remember the signs.” Mullin was speaking to the ban on placards at his town halls.
“This isn’t a sign,” the woman responded. “It’s a piece of paper.” Now This, a news website, reported that constituents bring red or green cards to town halls with placard bans to state their approval or opposition to what’s being said by elected officials.
Police in the video can be heard telling the woman that she will “have to step outside” if she didn’t surrender the piece of paper. The unidentified woman refused give up the paper or leave. “Then you can take me outside,” she said to an officer standing over her. “I’m not going to go out on my own.”
At one point in the video it appeared the woman was about to comply with the officer, leaning forward, readying stand, when she suddenly she leaded back into her chair and said, “No, I’m not. If you want me to go outside you can physically remove me. I’m not going to go.”
Mullin told police to “hold on … we’re going to play right into their hands.” He chastised the woman by saying she was being disrespecting the police and “everyone in this room … and I find it appalling,” he said.
Environmental activists flooded the town hall with signs, but abandoned them once they were told they could not participate nor enter the town hall with them. The woman with the red piece of paper was allegedly protesting Mullin’s position on the Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) – the federal agency that works to protect human and environment health. Mullin said at the town hall he is “not a fan” of the EPA.
Under the direction of President Donald Trump, the EPA is facing massive budget cuts. At least 25-percent of its employees are slated to lose their jobs and as many as 56 programs are on the chopping block, The Washington Post reported.
“The EPA has overstepped their boundaries each and every day,” Mullin said, reportedThe Pryor Daily Times. “They get into areas they shouldn't be involved in....the states have the right to regulate themselves if they have the ability to do so—and we do because we have the Department of Environmental Quality,” Mullin said. “I would have never run for office, if it wasn't for the fact that my biggest threat to my company was the federal government and the overreach of the EPA. They've gone too far and it’s time for them to be pulled back in.”
Mullin, who is the chair of President Donald Trump’s Native American Coalition, said he wants to privatize Indian reservations for oil and gas development. “We should take tribal land away from public treatment,” Mullin told Reuters in December. “As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country.” Mullin’s proposition, according to Native American leaders, would undermine sovereignty and the right to self-govern their treaty-protected lands.
As indicated when this story was first posted, Congressman Mullin’s office did not respond to Indian Country Media Network’s request for comment prior to publication midday yesterday. Congressman Mullin’s Communication Director has since responded with the following statement:
"If viewers and sharers of the Facebook video referenced watched to the end of the clip, they’d see that the Congressman didn’t have the woman removed, nor did he ever ask law enforcement officials to remove her. The Congressman actually asked the law enforcement not to remove her after the Mayor of Pryor signaled law enforcement to intervene.
I encourage you to watch the video posted on Congressman Mullin’s Facebook page to see what actually took place at the Pryor town hall meeting. You can do so by clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/RepMullin/videos/1227768047271349/
Additionally, I’d like to direct you to the Congressman’s statement on tribal sovereignty from last December, found at this link: http://mullin.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=415 and remind you that Congressman Mullin has never advocated for privatizing tribal land. "