The Newkirk City Commission meeting on Monday was moved to a larger venue to accommodate a large crowd weighing in on the fate of Mayor Brian Hobbs.
Hobbs was thrust into the spotlight after protesting last week at the U.S. Capitol on the day a deadly pro-Trump riot occurred inside the building to overturn the presidential election result.
Hobbs said he was on the steps of the Capitol, but did not go inside. He said he did not witness illegal activity and became aware of the violence and damage after he left.
But a quote erroneously attributed to him by the New York Times and a video tirade he posted to Facebook after the riot unleashed social media attacks against him. Hobbs said he had received death threats.
The commission meeting on Monday was moved from the library to the senior center as about 60 people attended. A portable metal detector screened for weapons, and security was increased, according to City Manager Ryan Smykill.
Controversy surrounding the mayor hit home at Newkirk starting last week.
“We did receive calls from concerned citizens,” Smykill said. “We did not have to put anything on lockdown … we did increased police patrols and did station an officer on Friday at City Hall for the day.”
Smykill said several people spoke at the meeting, all in support of Hobbs. The meeting was peaceful.
One citizen who attended told the CourierTraveler that some people spoke as if there were an effort to remove Hobbs from office and expressed hostility at other commissioners.
“No one asked for his resignation, and we have not received a petition requesting his resignation or a recall,” Smykill said on Tuesday. “Everyone that spoke last night was in support.”
Hobbs on Tuesday said dozens spoke in his favor.
“I didn’t know whether I was going to get attacked or not,” he said. “It was very encouraging to know that the citizens stand with me.”
Hobbs said he’d received threats and mentioned that his parents had just received a letter likening him to a Nazi. Hobbs said he’d sent his children out of town.
Hobbs was quoted in a New York Times story published Friday saying, “We had enough people, we could have tore that building down brick by brick.”
In a phone interview Friday, Hobbs did not deny he made that comment but said it was mischaracterized to make it sound like he wanted that to happen.
The Times later corrected the story to say that Eric Dark, of Braman, made the comment.
This week Hobbs said he knew he had not spoken to the Times, but wondered whether he’d said something like that to somebody else.
Even if he had spoken to the newspaper, “I would have never incited violence or the destruction of property,” Hobbs said. “They finally did their due diligence after three days, and now I’m getting death threats.”
After the events in D.C., an emotional Hobbs posted a profanity-peppered video during which he attacked Republican lawmakers, made unsubstantiated claims about Antifa, claimed the election was stolen, and said military veterans would “set this right” if President Trump called them to.
Facebook terminated his account, he said. A portion of the video is on the Tulsa World’s YouTube site.
In phone interviews last week and on Tuesday, Hobbs toned down his rhetoric and acknowledged that his claim about Antifa instigation was speculation, there were election irregularities but no public proof of a stolen election, and said there would have to be conclusive evidence of that to “set this right” if Trump called for it.