TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Quick facts:
- Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), canceled an event in Tahlequah Tuesday.
- He says the cancelation is due to security concerns stemming from social media threats.
- Cherokee Nation Marshals say they were not made aware of security concerns, and the congressman appeared to be upset that people with political signs were allowed into the venue.
- Download the FOX23 News app for the latest updates sent to your phone.
The Cherokee Nation Marshals say Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin and his office did not make them aware of any threats against the congressman before he canceled what could've been a heated town hall in Tahlequah Tuesday night.
The Cherokee Nation Marshals told FOX23 that the high school gymnasium building was fully secured before the event.
"We had sixteen people in a detached detail for him," a marshal said.
More than 100 people went home without the chance to even see their congressman after they were told the meeting was canceled because someone had threatened Mullin.
A marshal told FOX23 Wednesday afternoon that Mullin’s office did not share any concerns with them about a threat before the congressman arrived.
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He said they have no information whatsoever on any threat to Mullin at his Tahlequah town hall.
"And 15 minutes prior to the start, they canceled it because of safety concerns, and we were never told anything different," a marshal said.
The marshals also told FOX23 that they felt embarrassed by the incident, because they have had a clean record of hosting celebrities, dignitaries and even Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner without incident for years.
Tuesday night’s event, they said, looks like a blemish on a spotless security record.
"It was a real surprise to us when someone found we didn’t provide them safety," a marshal said.
Mullin told FOX23 that someone was making threats on Facebook and Twitter, wanting to be arrested. He said that his office decided to cancel and reschedule the event with better security screening instead of allowing someone to try to gain attention for their actions.
He said one of the people making threats had listed the names of Mullin’s children and his personal address on social media, promising civil unrest for Mullin and his family.
"We have protocols in place to make sure we have a safe environment and an environment where everyone has an opportunity to be heard," Mullin said. "We've done about 180-some town hall meetings, and I think we understand the procedures we need to have to be as effective as possible."
He went on to say he has no hard feelings with the venue, though he decided to choose another venue in the future to ensure that his team can better follow their own protocols and procedures.
Marshals said the congressman’s office appeared cancel the event after finding out that people had been allowed in the Sequoyah High School gym with political signs and colored papers to express their opinions.
Referring to allegations concerning the signs, Mullin said he does not allow any signs at his town hall events.
"We ask people to be respectful to everybody," he said. "We ask the crowd to be respectful, that we're not interfering and causing problems inside the crowd, and one of those distractions can be a sign, without question....When someone is holding a sign and waving it around, it causes a distraction."
Marshals said that people with signs and cards were in specially assigned sections, so they never blocked the view of constituents. They said the Attorney General of the Cherokee Nation told them that political signs and red and green pieces of paper were protected forms of speech and expression, according to the Constitution.
This isn’t the first time this year that Mullin has turned heads when constituents used red and green paper cards to express their opinions.
On one of the first stops in his town hall schedule in Pryor, video captured a woman upsetting the congressman by using the cards to express her opinion even after she was asked to stop.
Mullin said the video came out of context, creating national attention over a dispute that "isn't what it seems like".
Red and green paper cards have become a usual sight at town hall meetings across America after constituents began using them to show unity or disapproval to a question and its response from an elected official without having to be vocal or called upon.
The congressman claims to not like the signs because in the past, he saw people argue over the signs' messages instead of addressing their concerns to him
Mullin said that his town halls are going well, overall, and he feels safe on the road.