On Sunday

Tulsa Holds a Protest Rally as 99th Anniversary Noted

TULSA—“No justice, no peace, no racist police” protesters chanted on Sunday at a rally at the Greenwood Cultural Center as a multicultural crowd of hundreds joined with others in cities throughout the country who expressed their rage over the killing last week by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.

Organizers of the Tulsa protest was organized by “peaceful preachers and activists,” an organizer said.

The sounds of African and Native America drums accented the chants during the rally; the sounds of the Freedom Fighters.

As sweat rolled down the faces of the multicultural protesters, it was clear that all of them were there fighting for the basic human rights of Black and brown lives across the country.

No one seemed to grow weary. 

Everyone stood together—they among the familiar and the unfamiliar.

Some of the protesters had come to Tulsa from other cities and states to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which occurred in 1921 on a tragic day in Tulsa’s history that, literally, tore the city apart.

Now, that tumultuous moment in time, along with the continuous abuse of power and racism across the nation, had brought us all together.

Tulsa’s first Black police chief, Wendell Franklin, was all smiles while he spoke with the protest’s organizers.

Chief Franklin’s officers were there to show support and make sure things were done lawfully.

Several members of Tulsa’s community were willing and eager to speak up about the injustices they’ve faced, including a group of young adults, ranging in age from 18-25. 

“I’m an athlete and need to stay in shape,” an anonymous teenager wrote.  “I often jog down Brookside because it’s close to my residence and I’m usually met with stares like I don’t belong there. 

“A few times white bystanders have harassed me. 

“I’m afraid to call 9-1-1 because they’ve harassed me, too.  Who protects us?”

After hearing the youngsters various accounts, the massive crowd began chanting, “Say his name, George Floyd.”

The chanting of the name rang so loud and clear. George Floyd, of course, is the man who was murdered by Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of using excessive force by applying his knee to George Floyd’s neck and back area for at least eight minutes, 3 of which George Floyd was unconscious.

Since the release of a bystander’s cellphone footage, Officer Chauvin and the three officers that assisted him have been fired.

While weaving in and out among the protesters, I encountered a familiar face.

Rev. Jamaal Dyer of the Friendship Baptist Church was the owner of that familiar face.

He wore an inspiring T-shirt, which read, “Black Men Matter.”

His explanation for the statement was powerful:

“It means everything to me.  It means– me, myself, my father, my grandfather, every Black man, every man that looks like me—matters in this world. 

“Despite what we’ve seen, despite what the world treats us as, we do matter. 

“We are valuable. We are important.” 

Alongside him was standing a Black female educator, Ebony Johnson. 

Mrs. Johnson seemed to get emotional while discussing having a Black husband and Black children that are subject to racism and prejudices due to the color of their skin. 

“It’s personal,” she quipped.  “I have a Black son who is 16-years-old.   I have a daughter and I have a husband. 

“It hits home in that regard.  We have to do something different. 

“I’m here for the young people’s lives in our Tulsa public schools, particularly our Black and brown students.” Surrounding us was a loving crowd of people from different walks, various nationalities, economic statuses, all gathering for humanity.  That very moment left us all inspired and feeling hopeful.

The protest traveled up Greenwood Avenue to the highway (Interstate 244 Eastbound), where protesters blocked traffic. State troopers were there to maintain the peace.  Unfortunately, the peaceful protest turned volatile, as a pickup hauling a trailer of horses rammed through the crowd, injuring some.

No fatalities were reported. 

The incident is undergoing investigation.  The driver has yet to be publicly identified, but he did stop and briefly speak with state troopers.

Around 11:30 p.m. 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed I-44 eastbound at US75 and I-44 westbound at Lewis, as a precaution from protesters. 

It reopened around 1 a.m.  Numerous reports via the Tulsa Police Department’s Facebook account were made of looting along 36th Street and Peoria Avenue, 41st and 51st Streets

and Peoria. 

A T-Mobile, a medical dispensary and a pawn shop were vandalized, among other businesses.

Tear gas and pepper spray were used to disperse the crowd. Investigations are underway and three people were arrested from the incident, according to the police.

Rallies and protests in Tulsa, as well as those across the country, have been reported to continue throughout the week without an end date, according to various social media posts. 

The president has called for mayors to take a more “aggressive” approach. 

Some have chosen to put in place a curfew, while President Donald Trump has called for the National Guards’ presence in various states.

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