Teachers advocating for education funding are preparing for the statewide walkout planned for Monday. Union leaders have finalized the schedule of events for the day, and Oklahoma Highway Patrol will be handling security and parking issues.
State troopers are preparing for as many as 30,000 teachers to descend on the Capitol on Monday, but they will not be able to just drive up to the parking lot.
Heavy congestion is expected both in and around the State Capitol next week, so troopers advise locals to be patient. The northbound and southbound lanes closest to the building will be blocked to allow buses to drop people off.
Teachers plan to start picketing at 9 a.m. and will stay through at least 3 p.m. As they push for more education funding from lawmakers inside, fire marshals will be monitoring crowds on each floor. “When the Fire Marshal feels like we’re at that limit, we’re going to stop allowing people on that floor until people start leaving,” says OHP Capt. Paul Timmons, “and we may have the same issue at some of the doors.”
Lines to get in will be extremely long, so troopers say less is best when going through security. Timmons says, “Big purses, handbags, backpacks, things like that; if you don’t have to bring them, please don’t bring them. That will expedite the process.”
Also, you will not be able to get into the building with weapons, or even sticks attached to posters, as troopers say they could potentially be used as weapons too. Face masks are not allowed inside either.
These safety measures are something to consider before getting out of your car because you will not be able to park on Capitol grounds. There is also no overnight camping allowed on the premises.
The Oklahoma Education Association has listed five parking options in the surrounding area, where shuttles will bus teachers back and forth.
Locals and out-of-towners should plan accordingly to make the walkout go as smoothly as possible. Timmons says, “Everybody that’s involved in this event has a right to be here, and it’s a small space, but they are allowed to be here and our mission is public safety.”
While it is still unclear how long the walkout will last for some teachers, OHP is prepared to keep an increased security presence at the Capitol as long as necessary.