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Citing Security Concerns, Jenks Cancels Council Meeting On Mask Mandate


The Jenks City Council abruptly canceled a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening, called for the purpose of voting to extend the city's mask mandate, due to an unspecified threat.

"At the recommendation of the Jenks Police Department, we made the decision to cancel tonight’s city council meeting. This was due to concerns for the safety of the attendees of the meeting. I thank JPD and our city staff for their guidance," Mayor Robert Lee said in a statement. "We are guided in our decisions by the well-being and safety of our citizens, and that includes the functions of government. 

"We will accomplish what we set out to do tonight, but we will do so in a safe way. In the meantime, I call on everyone to practice peace and civility in these challenging times."

In an email, Lee said he was "not at liberty to go into specifics," but the cancelation was based on certain information the police department had received.

The council was set to vote on an amendment to their COVID-19 mask ordinance that would have extended the expiration date of the emergency order, currently set to end on Sunday, Jan. 31.

Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Jenks City Councilor Dawn Dyke said she was "incredibly disappointed."

"I really felt that this was something that shouldn't be swept under the rug and just blamed on logistics issues," Dyke said. "It literally is logistics issues, because maybe we wouldn't have enough people there on the police side to keep us safe, but that's not just a logistics issue at that point."

"Pretty much, there were people that were not happy with what we were discussing, and were not happy that we were meeting at this time during a mask mandate and that they would be required to wear masks, and so they were going to share their concern about that, good, bad or otherwise," Dyke said.

"And that's where my disappointment lies: That people who feel that the topic of a mask mandate is taking their freedom away can say or do what they feel they want in order to have that freedom, but by doing so it takes away our freedom to govern and to have a meeting," she said.

Dyke said the council would meet virtually if they were legally allowed, but are required to meet in-person despite high rates of COVID-19 because emergency rules allowing for virtual meetings during the pandemic were allowed to expire by the legislature in November.

She said she had shared her frustration with city officials and fellow members of the council.

"One of them I've spoken with is disappointed and is hoping that this doesn't set a precedent for any time someone doesn't agree with what is being addressed, that they can call in these sorts of things and make these accusations -- I have to be very careful in what I call it -- and I have another city councilor who's just as up in arms as I am about the whole thing," Dyke said.

The Jenks Police Department referred questions to the city.

At least one local anti-mask Facebook page celebrated the cancelation.

"Congratulations to our friends and neighbors in Jenks, OK are in order," a post there read. "The special city council meeting called for Wednesday, Jan. 27, to renew the city's 'mask mandate' has been canceled."



Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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