It all started with a traffic stop and a young mayor’s decision to attempt a small, but eventually controversial, intervention.
Adam Graham had been mayor less than a month when he saw them: Two police officers from the next city over, the wealthiest in Oklahoma, stopping a Black driver in his middle-class community.
As the first openly gay leader of The Village, he’d pledged to create a “welcoming” city. And for years, he said, residents had told him about being racially profiled, especially when they passed through the mansion-lined streets of Nichols Hills.
So, on that late May evening, Graham, 29, said he slowed to a halt in his black SUV, lowered the window and asked: “What are you doing, officers? Are you aware that you’re in The Village?”
What happened next fiercely divided this community of nearly 9,000, drawing international scrutiny that felt humiliating to some and cathartic to others as simmering frustrations burst into the open. Oklahoma lost one of its six LGBTQ elected officials when Graham announced this month he was stepping down, citing harassment and fear for his safety.
As for the traffic stop:
Before he said someone had followed him on the street, before he suspected someone had slashed one of his tires, before he said a man threw coffee at him and called him a gay slur, the police lights caught Graham’s eye.
“My gut, my heart — every part of me told me to do it,” he said in an interview at his ranch-style house. “My gut told me: ‘Just go over there and ask a question, Adam.’ ”
In a clip of body camera footage provided by the Nichols Hills police to The Washington Post, Graham can be seen pulling up in his Volkswagen Tiguan SUV across the street from what officers later described as a traffic stop.
“Excuse me?” asked one officer, a White man, apparently to Graham.
“You need to go on. Go on,” said the other officer, a Black woman.
Apparently the Nichols Hills police department and The Village police departments have a reciprocal agreement to help one another out. Not only that, but the Nichols Hills police officer says that traffic stop that day started in Nichols Hills, with the driver’s car ending up stopped over the city line.
So it’s possible that the young mayor had incomplete information when he decided to intervene.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t justify what happened next.
You can read the rest of the Washington Post article by Danielle Paquette at this link.