Man prepares to camp outside state employment agency in protest with help from agency director


Jonathan Sammons woke up in Oklahoma City on Thursday, ready to camp outside the Oklahoma Job Security Commission (OESC) for weeks.

Flight. Smith, an Arkansas resident, said he filed for unemployment in Arkansas and Oklahoma, which put his claims for benefits in limbo.

For weeks, Sammons said he was trying to quash his Oklahoma claim so he could advance Arkansas’ claim.

“I don’t even need a check from (OESC), I just need to cancel my application,” he said.

Sammons has been installed outside the Will Rogers State Office Building, which houses the OESC with his car and lawn chair. He was prepared for the long haul, he said.

“I am unemployed, I have free time,” Sammons said. “And I thought, something’s wrong here, it’s not right. It’s not normal to wait six, seven, eight weeks to get an answer.

The OESC, which is the agency responsible for unemployment and pandemic assistance in Oklahoma, has been inundated with hundreds of thousands of applications since March. It has provided more than $ 1 billion in aid during the COVID-19 pandemic and oil industry crises, according to OESC.

There has also been an upheaval in leadership. Robin Roberson resigned as the agency’s acting executive director last week and Shelley Zumwalt was appointed to replace her on Wednesday.

At around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Zumwalt drove into the building’s parking lot and met with Sammons to discuss the issue.

“I’m sorry he bothered to camp in front of a building,” she told News 9 afterwards.

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