PRYOR, OK —
A Facebook page calling for a financial boycott of Locust Grove was created on the social media website on Tuesday.
The page states “We refuse to spend another penny in Locust Grove until the Chief of Police is removed from his position.”
Though no name is given as administrator, many believe it is the work of Town Trustee Martha Pierce who has been outspoken against Police Chief Wade Henderson.
At a recent council meeting, Pierce called for the firing of Henderson and made several allegations including misuse of city property and abuse of power. The battle between the two was the subject of a recent Times article. A reprint of that article, along with an older Times article appear on the page, posted there by the unknown administrator.
Pierce has made several comments on the web page indicating her support for the boycott.
“I didn’t start this page nor do I know who did, but bottom line I’m taking a stand and I’m proud of it,” Pierce wrote.
Later, Pierce said she learned of the page from a co-worker.
“Almost immediately, people started attacking me with their comments,” Pierce said. “At first I tried to defend myself, but I finally quit commenting. They are like a vicious pack of wild dogs.”
In the description area of the web page the administrator wrote citizens are “tired of our tax dollars paying the salary of our chief of police.”
“Time and time again his name appears in the media, and never in a positive light. The city does nothing to rectify this situation, as we continue to lose good police officers because they cannot work under a man who lacks the maturity and morals a chief of police should have,” the admistrator wrote. “Until the City terminates his employment, or the chief resigns from his position, we refuse to spend another penny in the City of Locust Grove.”
Pierce said the negative comments were made by “half-witted people who only know bits and pieces” and feels unfairly targeted by critics and the message of the web page.
“Everyone’s blaming me,” Pierce said. “Attack the police department, but not the businesses because everyone’s attacking me. I’m being blamed for all of it.”
Backlash began almost immediately as many business owners and citizens say they are stunned.
Susan Qualls posted a comment that the page would bring negativity to the town.
“These businesses you want boycotted support all of our children’s fundraisers and activities,” Qualls wrote. “By encouraging people to boycott local businesses, you are taking away from our community and our kids.”
Amy Neel’s comment addressed a different concern.
“We elect city council members to speak for our interest and handle things that help to better our town. I’m sorry but how does it better us for a city council member to publicly bash other members?” Neel commented. “To openly agree with boycotting the city she is supposed to be representing?”
Others want the focus back on the issues. Robert Kamm spoke of the many water issues in Locust Grove and the need for new waterlines.
Pierce urged citizens not to boycott businesses in the community where she’s lived her whole life and said despite announcing her impending resignation from the board of trustees, she’s changed her mind.
“So many people have come to me and asked me not to leave, so I’m staying,” Pierce said. “Not going to be that easy.”
Several citizens announced intentions to stage an “anti-boycott” and encouraged citizens to support local businesses.
The Locust Grove Chamber of Commerce said it had nothing to do with the web page and its very existence defies the mission of supporting and promoting business in the community.