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Police seek help identifying those who painted 'BLM' in front of Tulsa City Hall

Police seek help identifying those who painted 'BLM' in front of Tulsa City Hall


The Tulsa Police Department posted this photo on its Facebook page Monday seeking help in identifying the people indicated, who are of interest in a case of “malicious injury to property” stemming from the painting of “BLM” on a city street and getting paint on City Hall on Saturday.

Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least four people of interest involved in the painting of “BLM” in front of City Hall on Saturday.

Several demonstrators quickly painted the acronym, which stands for Black Lives Matter, along Second Street at the conclusion of a mid-morning protest of the city’s Oct. 5 removal of the Black Lives Matter mural that had been on Greenwood Avenue since Juneteenth.

The city removed the mural in a resurfacing project after leaders said they couldn’t find a legal way to let it remain without allowing other messages to be painted on other streets, but speakers Saturday pointed out that cities across the country have allowed BLM street murals to remain, and several protesters described Tulsa’s decision as an act of “white supremacy.”

The protest, sponsored by the Black Wall Street Times, began at the Center of the Universe landmark and moved to City Hall. In a live stream of the event, organizers could be heard ordering participants and media members to turn their cameras off when the crowd approached the corner of Cincinnati Avenue and Second Street.

In an article Monday, the Times wrote that “the art installation was executed by a group of activists who had branched off” from the organization’s earlier protest.

The city considers the act malicious injury to property.

Yellow paint, mostly in the form of smeared handprints, was also left on City Hall’s columns, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office said.

“Vandalism of public property is not a peaceful protest,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement to the Tulsa World. “It is a criminal act. We will pursue legal action against those who damaged this city street and City Hall, with the expectation that they pay for repairs rather than the citizens of Tulsa.”

Malicious injury to property is punishable by civil action and can be categorized as a misdemeanor or felony based on whether property damage exceeds $1,000. It’s also a felony if a defendant has two or more similar prior convictions.

Neither the city nor the Police Department provided an estimated cost of damage Monday afternoon.

Officers arrested three people at the scene Saturday, and less than two hours after the paint was on the street, city crews washed it away.

Jess Eddy and James Lease were booked into the municipal jail on obstruction complaints after refusing officers’ commands to get out of the street, and Leigh Johnson was arrested on complaints of malicious injury to property, jay-walking and resisting arrest.

Officers reported that they found Johnson walking in Archer Street with yellow paint on her body and clothing after the painting occurred and that she ran from them. A security guard told police that the guard had seen Johnson painting the road, according to her arrest report.

Each was released on bond in the hours following.

Still seeking others involved, police released photographs from the scene and asked for the public’s help in identifying four people of interest. Anyone who can identify them is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS (2677), or through the Tulsa Tips app, which can be downloaded from the Google Play or iTunes stores.

Video: Black Lives Matter rally in front of City Hall

Gallery: Photos from the rally outside City Hall

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Staff Writer

I write because I care about people, policing and peace, and I believe the most informed people make the best decisions. I joined the Tulsa World in 2019 and currently cover breaking news. Phone: 918-581-8455

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