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Hateful GOP official called out to his face in Nex Benedict’s death: “It’s on you!”

Sean Cummings speaking at the February 22 Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting.
Sean Cummings speaking at the February 22 Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting. Photo: Screenshot

The vice mayor of an Oklahoma City suburb called out the state’s Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, the entire state board of education, and Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik for creating the environment of anti-LGBTQ+ hostility that he and other advocates say led to the death of 16-year-old Nex Benedict.

A business owner and the vice mayor of The Village, Sean Cummings spoke directly to Walters and members of the Oklahoma State Board of Education at a public meeting last week, accusing them of “emboldening” the students who attacked Benedict in a bathroom at Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma, earlier this month. Benedict, who friends say was trans and primarily used he/him pronouns, said he’d been bullied by the three students because of his gender identity prior to the violent altercation on February 7 in which he was reportedly beaten until he blacked out. Benedict died the next day. Authorities have not yet determined a cause of death.

“You and your rhetoric and your inability to do anything as a board here are partially responsible for emboldening bullies to jump a [student] in the bathroom,” Cummings said at the February 22 meeting.

He accused Walters of attacking the LGBTQ+ community “ever since you ran for office,” noting that Walters “brought in the chief attacker of this: Chaya Raichik.”

“It’s already difficult to be in high school. It’s very difficult to be different, but when somebody is attacked for being different, you are liable,” Cummings said.

Walters has faced widespread criticism from both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers since appointing the New York-based hate influencer and former real estate agent to Oklahoma’s library advisory committee in January. At the education board’s public meeting last month, Cummings blasted Walters for the decision, pointing to the reported links between Raichik’s posts and real threats directed at the libraries, hospitals, and individuals she has targeted. Among Raichik’s many targets was an Owasso School District middle school teacher who supported queer students. After Raichik posted about the teacher in 2022, he was reportedly harassed into resigning.

After Raichik posted a video of his January comments to her Libs of TikTok X account, Cummings said he, too, received exactly the sort of threatening phone calls he’d warned about.

“Did I not tell you this was going to happen?” Cummings said at last Thursday’s meeting. “And I’m sure when I leave here, Chaya Raichik will tweet my stuff out again, and I’ll get death threats again. That’s who you brought into the room.”

“You embolden these three girls yourself. Chaya Raichik emboldened these three girls by being on the library board,” Cummings continued. “It’s already difficult to be in high school. It’s very difficult to be different, but when somebody’s attacked for being different— This isn’t even about the death part because that’s coming next, and we’ll see who gets charged and how many families lose their children to prison.”

Cummings also speculated that Walters and the board may be “liable” for legal action related to Benedict’s death. Lawmakers, including out Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), and LGBTQ+ advocates have already called for a federal investigation into Owasso High School’s handling of the altercation, and on Wednesday, the Human Rights Campaign and over 350 LGBTQ+ rights organizations, civil rights groups, and leaders sent an open letter to the Oklahoma state legislature demanding Walters be removed from office.

“I think what you’re looking at now is a federal lawsuit for each one of you personally,” Cummings said, “and I hope it happens because it’ll bankrupt you, and I hope it happens for you, Ryan, because you’re money-oriented, and I hope it bankrupts you as well.”

Cummings also delivered a fiery challenge to Walters and the board. “What are you going to do about it down the line? Literally, what are you going to do to change your behavior?” he asked. “It was real nice that you said ‘thoughts and prayers for everybody’ at the beginning. [But] you brought it on.”

“You have no deniability here. It is a pattern,” he continued. “You have actual blood on your hands… You and worthless ass Chaya Raichik literally have blood on your hands.”

“Get a backbone. It’s embarrassing. I am humiliated and embarrassed for every one of you that showed up today,” Cummings said. “Shame on you.”

After his February 22 comments were posted online, Cummings told The Independent that he showed up at the meeting specifically to call out Raichik and Walters.

“Nex’s death is life-changing for everybody involved,” he said, “and it’s made okay because of the rhetoric of those two individuals and that just pours downstream and these kids are drinking that water.”

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