WASHINGTON—Eric H. Holder Jr. is a traveling attorney general, with a penchant for trips around the country and the world to give speeches or inspect offices.
But Thursday he canceled a planned speech in Oklahoma City at the 130th Police Academy graduation ceremony, after local Republicans announced that they planned to bring out “hundreds” of protesters.
Oklahoma gun rights activists, citing the bungled "Fast and Furious" scheme to catch gun traffickers, and a conservative state representative called the invitation to Holder an outrage.
The Justice Department said Holder was forced to cancel the speech because a meeting in Washington ran late, though he did go to Oklahoma City to visit the U.S. attorney’s office there. It did not immediately address questions about whether the protest was a factor.
There may have been security concerns about the appearance. A libertarian website, Liberty Voice, said Wednesday that “Eric Holder may want some extra security on his visit to Oklahoma City,” citing the planned protests.
p>An estimated 50 protesters turned out anyway despite the attorney general’s absence.
[UPDATED, 12:50 PM PDT, April 24
“Oklahoma is a very conservative state where we take judicial and legal enforcement very seriously,” explained state Rep. Michael Turner. “His stance in not answering Congress on fast and furious really rubs lot of individuals the wrong way. And people here view him as being soft on immigration and very soft on crime.”