Monday saw Texas Governor Rick Perry announce the annexation of the Oklahoma Panhandle.
“In our hearts, we know that the Panhandle has always been an inalienable part of Texas,” he said, emphasizing that the most populous of the three counties that make up the Panhandle is even named after Texas.
The annexation is the culmination of a crisis that began following Mary Fallin’s reelection to the position of Governor of Oklahoma late last November.
On Dec. 6, unmarked cattle ranchers seized control of Guymon Municipal Airport by parking a tractor on the Airport’s single landing strip. Over the course of the following week, these ranchers seized control of Guymon City Hall and the Guymon police department.
When asked by a correspondent in the region about their origins and intentions, one of the ranchers advised him to “get down that there road apiece,” before stating that he was “as busy as a hound in flea season.”
With the largest city in the Panhandle under their control, the ranchers proceeded to establish cordons at the borders of the Panhandle.
For the remainder of December and most of January, Governor Perry denied any direct involvement with the ranchers.
“There are no armed forces, no Texan ‘instructors’ in northwestern Oklahoma. And there never were any,” said Governor Perry.
Rather, he expressed concern for the ‘ethnic Texans’ in the Panhandle following Mary Fallin’s election, and commended the ranchers for acting “to protect the Texan population in the Panhandle.”
This period of time was marked by an atmosphere of “odd peace.” The ranchers conversed freely with the locals about practically anything except what they aimed to accomplish by occupying the Panhandle.
There were several isolated violent incidents, most notably the shooting of a prize pig by one of the ranchers, which resulted in a small riot that dispersed by the next morning.
After the actions of the ranchers were condemned by President Obama in late January, Governor Perry admitted his involvement.
“Yeah, I gotta take the bullet on this one,” Perry said. “It was me.” Perry stated that the invasion was prompted by his concern that the primarily ethnic Texan population of the Panhandle would be subjected to botched executions.
“If I’m sending one of my own people to the chair, and I most definitely am, I want to make sure it’s done and done well, and I just can’t trust Mrs. Fallin with that, not after what happened last year.”
Perry’s actions have received widespread condemnation from political leaders both in the United States and abroad. One exception was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who offered his sympathies to Governor Perry. “I know that sometimes you really just need to annex a large swath of land for no particular reason, so I’m not going to hold this against you, Perry,” he said during a press conference in Moscow.
In response to the annexation, Governor Fallin has mobilized State Troopers to what is now the border between Oklahoma and its former Panhandle.
In addition, a small online petition has been started, titled ‘Don’t manhandle the Panhandle.’ It has accrued in excess of one dozen signatures.