Days after a story alleging a Tulsa County Court Clerk’s Office employee and her husband have ties to the Ku Klux Klan, county officials said it’s possibly illegal to fire her over the alleged hate group membership.
Bondell “Bonnie” Kukla and her husband Stephen Kukla, 67, of Tulsa are “white supremacists and long-time members of the Ku Klux Klan, traveling to Klan chapters throughout the South “preaching, speaking, and entertaining through song,” as well as performances at Christian Identity Churches, according to a story published by Hate Trackers.
Hate Trackers is a website that for more than a decade has tracked and infiltrated Hate Groups across the country.
The story includes video of the Kuklas singing at The National Faith and Freedom Conference (a gathering organized by the Knight’s Party, also known as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan), and links to KKK websites that state Stephen Kukla sang “The Old Rugged Cross” during a cross burning.
The Hate Trackers story also states that Bonnie Kukla had been stationed at the Tulsa County Juvenile Court Clerk’s office, but later moved to the Tulsa County Court Clerk’s main office downtown.
On Wednesday Tulsa County Court Clerk Donald Newberry issued a statement about Kukla’s employment.
“I do not in any way condone or believe that discrimination, based on race, religion or sex, has any place within the workspace,” Newberry said in the email. “At the same time, I and all that work for this office, have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, part of which is the protection of free speech. If at any time I find that someone is not performing their duty to uphold the Constitution the situation would be dealt with according to the offense.”
County Commissioner Karen Keith said county lawyers had indicated to her that it would not be possible to fire Kukla based on her alleged KKK membership.“Our hands are tied,” Keith said. “There’s just not much Tulsa County can do.”
Fallout hits Oklahoma Equality Center
Shay White, a Tulsa woman who ran as a Democrat last year for House District 77, was taken away by ambulance on Wednesday after allegedly vandalizing the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center.
White, who lost in the Democratic primary by less than 250 votes to John Waldron (who later won the general election in November), was protesting at the Equality Center over a Facebook comment made by Sharon Bishop-Baldwin, an Equality Center Board member.
Bishop-Baldwin, who along with her wife Mary Bishop-Baldwin filed a lawsuit that eventually overturned Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban in 2014, wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post that while she didn’t agree with Bonnie Kukla’s beliefs, she didn’t think she could be fired for them unless they interfered with her work at with the Tulsa County Court Clerk’s Office.
White began to protest outside the Equality Center early Wednesday, recording herself on Facebook over the course of several videos. But about 11 a.m. her demeanor appeared to change, and she began to take clothes from her car and to throw them around the front door of the building.
She later entered the building and began throwing on the ground pamphlets, donation forms, voter registration forms and other items distributed by the Equality Center.
White was arrested, Tulsa Police said, for malicious mischief and trespassing. In a statement, the Equality Center said its staff did not wish for charges to be filed against White.
“One of our constituents arrived at the center as a result of the disagreement, and unfortunately, a conversation regarding the initial social media post was unable to occur,” the Equality Center posted to its Facebook page. “We know this has left our constituents concerned and confused. Oklahomans For Equality is committed to an internal and organization-wide examination of leadership and programs to address any bias.”