Most people probably slept through the latter parts of yesterday’s protests in Oklahoma City, and I envy them. Here are some takeaways on my mind.
1. Protests are messy. That is kind of the point. People get arrested, people say impolite things, and there is great tension. Especially when law enforcement is one of the topics being raised. Having said that, the vast majority of protestors did exactly what we have done in this country for two centuries in order to build a more just society. They spoke their views peacefully. They did so in numbers that commanded attention. They raised important issues we all need to confront. (For more of my thoughts on those underlying issues, see my post from Saturday.)
2. Things unfortunately disintegrated after midnight, and your mom is still right that nothing good happens after midnight. I’m sure there will be lots of opinions about what happened and lots of emotions. I’ll just say this – destruction of property or threats of violence are not acceptable. It doesn’t serve a higher purpose and it distracts from the important issues at hand. It is not something we will ever condone in Oklahoma City. I am especially disappointed in property damage to small businesses, who have suffered enough from the pandemic. Having said that, I’ve heard many anecdotes tonight about people who spoke out against vandalism and violence. Those anecdotes hearten me, but don’t surprise me. The vast majority of people in this city, even those who are angry right now, do not want to harm our people.
3. Let me just say that I appreciate our police officers, who had to deal with some incredibly complicated and tough situations tonight.
4. Thank you to the peaceful protestors, the police officers and the media, all of whom played a vital role in the peaceful aspects of what occurred tonight.
5. There are further protests scheduled Today. I am hopeful they will remain peaceful in all respects. In our form of government, the City Manager and the Police Chief are the leads on our law enforcement response and our Charter prohibits the Mayor from directing the operations of the police department. I have confidence in the expertise of our city’s law enforcement leadership, but I am absolutely monitoring the situation very closely.
6. We’re all in this together. I will always believe that.