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Editor's letter 9/18/19

Patricia Spottedcrow was 25 when she was sentenced to 12 years in prison for selling $31 worth of weed to a police informant in Kingfisher. She had four kids and no convictions. The young mother was paroled in Nov. 2012 before being arrested again, last week, for failure to pay fees connected to the decade-old case. 

A lot has changed in Oklahoma since Spottedcrow was first incarcerated. For one, voters passed ballot measures to re-classify most drug charges and approve the medical sale of cannabis. Today there’s a thriving industry of (mostly white) entrepreneurs who make a handsome living selling the plant that landed her behind bars. These operators, rightfully, don’t get taken from their children and jailed. They get billboards and business cards. They get warm profiles in media outlets like this one. 

A community of good Samaritans came to Spottedcrow’s rescue a few days ago, with donors collecting $3,921.97—the state-determined cash value of her freedom. But what about our neighbors whose stories don’t go viral? GoFundMe can’t carry the load for all of us. We need deep, structural reform at every level of our criminal justice system—and we need a legislature and law enforcement community with the gumption and good heart to lead it.  

The conversation about who we are in relation to how we are policed and jailed is one we’re beginning to have publicly here in Tulsa. You’ll find a story about that here, as Damion Shade brings us up to speed on the City Council’s efforts to engage with over-policed communities of color and repair decades of distrust. 

We’ve also got a feature about federal law enforcement, with a stunning photo essay courtesy of Boulder Weekly in Colorado. You’ll meet three parents living in sanctuary across the United States, desperate to protect themselves and their families from the “death sentence” of deportation. One of those people is Saheeda Nadeem, a mother of two, who has spent the last 16 months living in a Kalamazoo church that was once the last stop on the Underground Railroad. 

Also inside: hitting the mat with Tulsa’s ass-kicking adaptive grapplers; a history lesson on Muslims and the making of America with Dr. Amir Hussain; scaling the Alps with Tulsa Artist Fellow and “ultra-runner” Yatika Fields; learning to see the geckos of Tulsa; dining and debauchery at three Tulsa dive bars; a free store on four wheels; the beers of fall; a review of the new J-Lo movie, and more. 

That about does it for now. See you in two weeks. In the meantime, remember to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. We’ll need it to build a better world. 

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