Walkingstick campaign manager criticized for offensive posts

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/26/2019 05:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A now-deleted video from David Walkingstick’s campaign for principal chief shows Luke Harshaw, who served as Walkingstick’s campaign director, left, with Walkingstick, center, and Shane Jett of the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corp. Harshaw was among several Oklahoma Federation of College Republicans members accused of posting homophobic, anti-immigrant and racist content on social media. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Recent turbulence within a student Republican organization on the University of Oklahoma campus has reached the Cherokee Nation election race, with a campaign manager reportedly making offensive posts in an online forum.

Luke Harshaw, who has served as campaign manager for principal chief candidate David Walkingstick, was among several Oklahoma Federation of College Republicans members accused of posting homophobic, anti-immigrant and racist content. Other campus organizations called for punishment or sanction of the OU chapter, and the chairs of at least five Federation of College Republicans organizations at Oklahoma universities called for the resignation of Harshaw from the OKFCR state leadership.

In a recent press release by the Walkingstick campaign, Harshaw was not listed as the contact.

Screenshots released in March by a Twitter account with the name @jamgoogly contained GroupMe messages apparently posted by OU FCR members. There was discussion over whether a blackface incident at OU was racist and comments that are likely to be interpreted as racist, offensive or insensitive.

Most of the messages in the screenshots bear the names of three OU students, but there are other names, and a few posts appear to have been made by Harshaw.

Posts with Harshaw’s name include a circle-slash over the LGBT “rainbow,” a meme reading “…the family that gets deported together stays together,” and a piece of reverse text reading ‘What if we rename ICE, ‘Planned Citizenship’ and then change deportations to ‘aborted naturalizations’?”

Five campus chairs – Erica Martin of the University of Tulsa, Clayton Smith of Oklahoma State University, Brandon Martin of Oral Roberts University, Blake Blaton of Rogers State University, and Matthew Greenwood of Oklahoma Wesleyan University – jointly released a signed statement on March 12 calling for Harshaw and OKFCR Chairwoman Sheridan Nolen to step down.

“These statements and actions have hurt many people across the state and tarnished the name of College Republicans in Oklahoma,” the TU College Republicans said in a Facebook post. “The chair and executive director of the OKFCR, Sheridan Nolen and Luke Harshaw, have indelibly damaged the organization which they lead and represent. Over half of the chapters within the OKFCR have called for the resignation of Sheridan Nolen and Luke Harshaw.”

In late March, the OU FCR announced it would go dormant for the remainder of the spring semester and resume its activities in the fall with new leadership. Several executive members resigned in the wake of the controversy.

Requests for comment from Harshaw, Walkingstick and Erica Martin were not returned.

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