Community Unity: Bipartisan legislators back investigation

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 10-Mar-2010

State legislators and several community leaders on Tuesday (March 9) condemned an attack on an Oklahoma City principal and offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his assailant.

Uniting to decry the attack and to support law enforcement efforts to find the perpetrator were four Oklahoma City legislators: Sen. Constance Johnson, and Reps. Mike Shelton, Anastasia Pittman and Jason Nelson. The first three are Democrats, while Nelson is a Republican.

Also joining in the press conference were Police Chief Bill Citty and Oklahoma City public school Superintendent Dr. Karl Springer.

Brian Staples, principal of Fredrick A. Douglass High School in Oklahoma City, was recently attacked in the school parking lot. Authorities are still seeking his attacker.

Staples was attacked March 2 by a man who walked up to him and began a conversation. The attacker then hit Staples’ knee with a club. Although Staples was able to drive to a hospital for examination and returned to work the next day, Superintendent Springer told reporters that the principal was still hurting from the assault and concerned the assailant has not been found.

Chief Citty, a veteran law enforcement officer, characterized the attack as “shocking.” He said the city police would work to protect Staples and other administrators from “a pattern of intimidation.”

In a prepared statement provided to CapitolBeatOK, Sen. Johnson commented, “Clearly there is cause for concern in our community. Not only about the violence in relation to this matter, but also any conditions and circumstances at the school that lead this person to choose violence as their method to resolve conflict.”

Johnson continued, “This must be a teachable moment for our children, our administrators and our community. We must unite in our effort to understand the implications of this incident, the greatest of which is the need to always avoid violence, and to always exercise justice and judiciousness.”

“This is bigger than just the attack on Brian Staples,” said Shelton, who helped organize the event and brought together the coalition of concern after the incident. “This is about ensuring all our school administrators and students are protected. We cannot allow this attack to be ignored.”

“We are here today to send a message that there is no room for this kind of violence at our schools or in our community,” said Pittman. “We are joining together today to condemn this attack with a united voice.”

“To sit back and fail to address the implications of this act of violence is unacceptable,” Sen. Johnson explained. “Our community will take an active role. In ensuring that justice is achieved, we are beginning this effort by working with the Oklahoma City Police Department and contributing to the Crime Stoppers fund to bring this individual to justice.”

Rep. Nelson did not make a formal statement at the press conference held Tuesday (March 9) but told CapitolBeatOK, “Mike [Shelton] told me on the floor of the House what he was working on. I just wanted to stand with him and others to support the police and school officials as this crime is investigated.”

Shelton encouraged all citizens to get involved by contributing to Crime Stoppers and said those with information about the Staples attack should call 235-7300.

NOTE: CapitolBeatOK Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.