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Tulsa protest leaders praise participants, disavow 'rogue' vandalism from Sunday night

Tulsa protest leaders praise participants, disavow 'rogue' vandalism from Sunday night

#WeCantBreathe Press Conf

The Rev. Robert Turner makes remarks Monday at a news conference at Tulsa’s City Hall. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

Some leaders involved in this weekend’s protests in Tulsa say they were pleased overall with how participants conducted themselves, and that the acts of a few rogue vandals won’t overshadow that fact or the message.

“I am deeply, deeply moved by the outpouring of support that we saw Saturday — thousands of people peacefully protesting,” the Rev. Robert Turner said at a news conference Monday morning.

Turner, of Vernon AME Church, was joined in front of City Hall by elected officials and other leaders, along with members of We Can’t Breathe, the group that organized the Saturday protest.

“I never heard any protesters say they wanted to do anybody harm,” the pastor added. “That was the furthest thing from our mind. We were simply citizens wanting to hear from our leadership.”

After a second day of peaceful protests that followed on Sunday, some acts of vandalism and property destruction did occur late in the day.

In a separate news conference Monday afternoon, Police Chief Wendell Franklin said the acts were committed by “rogue groups,” and included dumpster fires, broken windows and the destruction of a highway patrol vehicle.

“It was some individuals who wanted to take advantage of what was taking place — a peaceful protest — and be a part of destruction and chaos,” Franklin said.

He said police and protest organizers had worked together from the beginning, and that police were in the loop on their plans.

Nate Morris, one of the We Can’t Breathe organizers, said the group was not involved with the protesting Sunday that ended in vandalism.

“We do not condone any acts of violence that took place, especially from any outside instigators who are not a part of this community or this fight,” Morris said in a statement.

Speaking at the We Can’t Breathe news conference, state Rep. Regina Goodwin said, “For all the white brothers and sisters that have joined us, thank you. But we will not tolerate extremists.”

“They’ve been doing it ever since Martin Luther King’s marches,” she added. “They infiltrated those marches and destroyed property. If you’re going to stand with us, stand correctly. Because we want to keep moving on.”

As for what happens next, protest leaders expect the positive energy from the weekend to carry over, they said.

“There are mayors all over this country that are asking for calm,” said Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper. “But what I’m afraid of is what happens when we have calm. We fall back on complacency and normalcy. That’s what normally follows. And then we start focusing on other issues.”

“So I say keep protesting,” Hall-Harper said. “Keep protesting. Do not stop. … We, in every city across this country, demand reform now.”

“What’s different this time,” she added, “is the revolution is throughout this country, even international. And that is key.”

Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, a police reform advocate whose brother Terence was shot and killed in 2016 by Tulsa police, said, “Our message remains the same. We’re demanding common-sense reforms, and we’ve said it over and over and over again.”

Crutcher said the ultimate goal is “police accountability.”

“We are sick and tired of black lives being slaughtered in the street,” she said. “In the land of the so-called free. And we won’t stand for it another day. Not another day.”

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Tim Stanley



Twitter: @timstanleyTW

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