Muskogee County Sheriff Rob Frazier says he has a new respect for women after a trek down State Street in red, high-heeled shoes.
“I don’t know how women wear these things,” Frazier said.
Frazier was one of a crowd of men who strutted, stumbled and walked in high heels and fancy flip flops for Walk in Her Shoes, an annual event by Women In Safe Home. Women walked too, laughing as they advised men on how to keep their balance in spiked heels. The crowd moved down State Street, crossed Denison Avenue and headed into Arrowhead Mall.
There, visitors were invited to listen as guest speakers like Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge and Muskogee Public Schools Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall spoke on how they work to combat violence and abuse.
Surrounding the speaking space were Silent Witnesses, red wooden silhouettes representing victims of domestic violence who died at the hands of a loved one. The walk is meant to raise awareness surrounding such violence and to show solidarity between men and women in facing that violence.
WISH Assistant Director Sissy Carden said the huge group was a show of Muskogee’s support for the organization.
“Muskogee has always been supportive,” Carden said. “I’ve helped with groups like this elsewhere, and we didn’t get half the support we get here.”
Some of that support came from law enforcement like Frazier and Deputy U.S. Marshal Billy Banks. Banks said that it’s the volume of domestic abuse cases that drives him out to the event each year.
“I try to do this every year,” Banks said. “We work a lot of assault and battery warrants every year, and so I think this is a good way to show our support for this cause.”
Students got involved with the walk, too. Muskogee High School sent a squad of Roughers to march with the group while Connors State College sent some athletes.
“We have kids out here to show that Muskogee is against domestic violence,” said senior Taylor Myers.
Myers’ fellow senior Mashyla Swain said the walk helped embolden people to speak up about abuse.
“People shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it and stand up for themselves,” Swain said. “This shows that they have the courage to do that.”
Swain said the fact that so many men came out showed that they were supportive of victims of domestic abuse.
Senior Michael Hamil said it felt good to come out to stand alongside women.
“It shows men and women can walk side by side,” Hamil said.