McAlester police file photo

McAlester police file photo

McAlester Mayor John Browne called for unity on Monday after the city was named in threatening messages made the previous day by an anti-government group.

Law enforcement agencies took precautions Sunday evening after McAlester was one of five cities mentioned in threatening messages by an anti-government group.

Browne said in a Facebook post that the group making the threats was not seeking justice for the killing of George Floyd and urged citizens to not take extreme actions. The following is the mayor's full post:

"Further update on our city. The threats that were made yesterday were not made by protesters nor were they made by members of our community. They were made by outside agitators trying to create fear and violence within our home. These agitators are an anti-government group, they are attempting to use the anger from the killing of George Floyd not to seek justice but to foment division between our African-American community and everyone else. Do not allow them to fulfill their agenda. Do not allow them even a sliver of control of our great city. Take time today to think about what we put out on social media concerning what is going on in America. If it doesn't move us toward reconciliation and understanding please ask yourself if posting it adds to the anger. We have some very serious issues in America to work our way through and a lot of people are mad, both protesters and those who see the rioting. Times like these we are going through give rise to groups with extreme views who try to take advantage of the anger for their own ends. Our city is too good to let this happen to us, watch out for your neighbors and we will come through this together as a community."

Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said messages from the 'boogaloos,' an anti-government movement, did not include a specific threat or target.

But he said the sheriff's department, McAlester Police and Fire Departments, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and Oklahoma Highway Patrol have taken precautions.

"We're just taking some precautionary steps just to make sure," Morris said. "We don't want to underestimate it, but we want to be ready in case something does happen."

The 'boogaloo' movement calls for a violent uprising targeting liberal politicians and law enforcement, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, an independent nonprofit that researches misinformation and hate speech on social media.

Morris said PCSO is taking extra precautions and all deputies are on stand-by if action is taken.

McAlester Police Department Interim Chief Kevin Hearod said the department is doing extra patrol at businesses and public places, keeping the police department locked, and taking other precautions.

Hearod said officials contacted surrounding police departments and all MPD officers are on stand-by if something were to happen.

"We don't know how credible the threat is, but we have to take precautions just in case," Hearod said.

"We ask people to stay home if at all possible until we evaluate the situation and see what's going to come of it," McAlester Police Sgt. Preston Rodgers said.

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com