By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
“It was about keeping civil peace.”
That’s how Yukon’s police chief described efforts of Canadian County law enforcement personnel in tactical gear who helped provide security during several nights of protests in Oklahoma City.
Members of Canadian County’s Special Operations Team were in Oklahoma City over the weekend and Monday night after demonstrators came to the police station and county jail to protest the death of George Floyd.
“The last 72 hours have been pretty interesting on all fronts,” Yukon Police Chief John Corn said Tuesday. “We’ve been down there the last few nights supporting them.”
The Canadian County team was asked by Oklahoma County law enforcement officials to come to downtown Oklahoma City after the first night of organized protests.
“It really put a stress on their operations,” Chief Corn said. “They asked us to come down to help them. Their guys were on the ground a little over 16 hours that first night.
“It was about providing protection. It wasn’t about invoking arrest.”
Canadian County Sheriff Chris West provided his department’s armored Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to help quell any rioters.
Oklahoma County’s special ops team is about the same size as the one in Canadian County.
“It is multi-jurisdictional as well,” Corn said. “It is made up of men from Luther, Choctaw, Nichols Hills, The Village.”
Canadian County Special Ops has members from Yukon, Mustang, El Reno, Union City, and Piedmont.
Yukon Police offered similar resources to Oklahoma City Police during the recent protests.
“What could we provide them in the event of?” Yukon’s police chief said. “They were taking note of what our resources were and what manpower we could send them.
“Let’s hope that things will now progress, and groups can move forward with their message. And everybody can start to regain a little bit of normalcy in front of the (COVID-19) pandemic. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
Floyd, an African American man, died of cardiac arrest and asphyxia on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minn. after a white police officer kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds – nearly 3 minutes of that time occurred after Floyd became unresponsive.
Floyd, who was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during his arrest for using a counterfeit $20 bill, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.
Four police officers were fired as a result of the incident and autopsies ruled the manner of death as a homicide.
Floyd’s death sparked protests and demonstrations in more than 200 cities in all 50 states.
Police precincts have been damaged, stores looted and structures and vehicles set on fire.
Local television news coverage of Saturday night’s Oklahoma City protest featured predominantly video footage of a dumpster on fire behind a downtown nightclub, which to many was the perfect symbol of the evening’s festivities.