Town of Warner, NAACP officials meet concerning racism scandal
10:17 PM, Jan 23, 2018
WARNER, Okla. -- Representatives from the NAACP met with Warner officials Tuesday night in an attempt to discuss how to fix the racism problem that has surrounded this small town.
The NAACP wants Warner employees to take diversity training. All this following a racism scandal that rocked the town and led to the resignation of two employees.
It is time to heal. One step at a time.
The two groups met Friday after the former employees were caught on audio using racial slurs in regards to Martin Luther King Day.
2 Works for You reporter Katie Wisely has covered the story from the beginning and explains what the NAACP wants the town to do. . .end racism.
“They ain’t going to run me off that’s for sure," said Michael Wittmer, the man who blew the whistle with his audio tape and is a city employee.
It hasn't been easy for Wittmer since the disclosure.
“Nobody talks to me," Wittmer said. "It’s just kind of silent.”
While the two employees resigned, Wittmer retained his job with the city but has been given the cold shoulder.
“They allow it to happen so it’s going to start happening again as soon as everyone leaves,” he said.
Less than a hundred yards from where Wittmer works, the NAACP and town officials met inside the Warner Community Center.
“We have participated in other towns that have said they would offer diversity training, they don’t make it mandatory," said Rev. Rodger Cutler, with the NAACP. “Require employees to go through that.”
The town agrees change is the way only to move forward.
Roger Thomason, mayor of Warner would like to see that change.
“Some people are raised different than others and they need to understand that everybody has a different life and they need to understand each others lives,” Thomason said.
First, mandatory diversity training. Second, adding signs of who to talk to you if you feel discriminated against. And third?
Thomason: “The individual who recorded, is he still employed by the city? Yes. And he is not going to be retaliated? He is not going to be retaliated for recording."
Wittmer says there are subtle ways he has been harassed.
“Like locking the doors on me on city hall when I walk in and just kind of smart aleck," he says.
Thomason says he has been unaware of these antics.
“Everybody is treated the same,” he says.
NAACP State President Anthony Douglas originally wanted to send a letter to the Department of Justice.
He wanted monitoring of federal funds in the small town of 1,600 people.
“Is there a bigger problem somewhere here?" he asks. "Have African Americans been late in bills or late paying a bill and has someone in the city cut off their power? Have they been harassed because of the racism that’s been going on here.”
For now, no letter has been sent.
Giving the town a chance to turn things around.
After close to an hour, everyone joined together hand in hand for prayer.