Rev. Jesse Jackson helps kick start renewed school shelter petition
By Christine VanTimmeren
MOORE — The fight for shelters in schools has a new ally, Reverend Jesse Jackson. He made an appearance in Moore on Wednesday to kick off Take Shelter Oklahoma's revised petition.The Reverend stood in front of Plaza Towers Elementary with about a dozen clergy members, and Plaza Towers parents to say shelters in schools isn't a legal or political issue, but a moral one. Take Shelter OK hopes his presence will give the issue more weight."This is a great test of the character of this state," said Rev. Jackson. "Can not this state, whether it's red, blue or purple, build tornado shelters to save its people?"With that statement, one of the world's most well known religious and civil rights leaders thrust the failure to fund shelters in Oklahoma schools into the international spotlight."This is our globe and we are too linked to be divided," the Reverend said."He knows it's an important issue not just for Oklahoma, but the way to do it here, we could lead the nation in how we handle catastrophes," said Take Shelter OK's attorney David Slane.Slane invited the Reverend to Wednesday's event. The two are close friends and, until now, Rev. Jackson has been supporting Slane's shelter campaign from the sidelines. On Wednesday, he was front and center."Would it not be a shame if we anticipate the tornadoes coming and did not make preparations for its coming," the Rev. Jackson questioned.Before speaking Rev. Jackson personally met with parents who lost children on May 20th, including Mikki Davis and Danni Legg."I'm not giving up. This is the reason we're doing it, these children," Davis said holding up a picture of her son Kyle who was killed in Plaza Towers."This is the reason we need shelters in schools."Take Shelter's first attempt to file a $500-million bond failed. The Reverend's appearance was to kick off revisions that have been made in hopes of it passing."We've gone back to the drawing board," Slane said. "We've tried to re-write it. We've tried to make it not political, tried to not get in a legal fight."The money will now come from the state's general revenue fund, instead of the franchise tax. Local districts will also have full control to determine if they want the money and how to best protect their students with it. Rev. Jackson says, how we treat our children is the true measure of our character."What happens to Oklahoma directly affects the rest of us indirectly," Rev. Jackson said. "We're all members of one family."Slane says the petition will officially be filed next week. After that, they will have 90 days to get the 160,000 signatures needed to put it on a statewide ballot.To learn more about Take Shelter OK click here.
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