Fact check: Death threats, Teamsters shut down capitol construction, water shut off at teacher walkout

The OSBI confirmed on Thursday it was investigating threats to do 'bodily harm' to lawmakers over ongoing teacher walkout

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Demonstrators pack the upper floors of the Oklahoma Capitol during the teacher walkout. BRIANNA BAILEY/The Frontier

The Frontier is back on rumor patrol for Day 4 of the Oklahoma teacher walkout.

Claim: Oklahoma lawmakers have received death threats during the teacher walkout.

Fact: Oklahoma Highway Patrol initially said it had not responded to reports of any threats. But Thursday afternoon, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said it had received reports of at least three threats to state lawmakers in the last 24 hours and expected to begin investigating a fourth report soon.

Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for OSBI, said she couldn’t release much more information.

“….the threats are to do bodily harm and are related to the teacher protests at the capitol,” Brown said in an email Thursday. “These threats have been communicated in various ways including via telephone and email. OSBI agents are working to identify and locate the people who made the threats to make sure they are not carried out.”

Claim: Teamsters union members have stopped working on the ongoing restoration of the the Oklahoma Capitol in solidarity with teachers.

Fact: There is no truth to this rumor, according to Trait Thompson, project manager of the capitol restoration project.

Thompson told The Frontier that no workers have walked off the job. Crews for the restoration projects are running shifts from 6 a.m. to midnight every day. However, the interior construction team decided to suspend work Monday due to large crowds anticipated during the teacher walkout. 

Claim: The state fire marshal has shut off the water at the Oklahoma Capitol.

Fact: Ok, first, why would the fire marshal shut off the water?

Thompson told The Frontier that the water pressure is just bad on the upper floors of the building because of a pump that broke before crowds of teachers arrived on Monday.

Parts are on backorder for the pump, but they are expected to arrive next week, ” Thompson said. 

Claim: Oklahoma Highway Patrol is barring teachers from meeting with their state lawmaker unless they have an appointment or are keeping demonstrators from visiting the upper floors of the building even though they are empty.

Fact: Access to some state lawmakers’ offices on the upper floors of the capitol have been somewhat restricted when the fire marshal has deemed those areas filled to capacity. The OHP is admitting demonstrators on an a one-in, one-out basis when the upper floors of the capitol are full.

Access to floors 3, 4, 5 at the Capitol has been restricted by the fire marshal today (Thurs.), due to crowd size….

Posted by Oklahoma Highway Patrol on Thursday, April 5, 2018

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Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey grew up in Idaho. Oklahoma is her adopted home. Bailey has covered issues ranging from Oklahoma's strained child welfare system to the slow decline of Oklahoma's rural hospitals. She has walked all the way across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to south via Western Avenue and once via the old U.S. Route 66. Her hobbies are baking and crashing meetings she isn't invited to attend. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Oklahoma. Email her at brianna@readfrontier.com
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