The Rev. Robert Turner, pastor of Vernon AME Church, said in a news release Wednesday night that he was assaulted by anti-mask protesters outside Tulsa City Hall earlier in the day.
Turner, who said he has protested for reparations for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre each Wednesday since September 2018, said he "felt emotions that were unlike anything I have ever known" when he walked up to the protest.
"My very presence was the catalyst for an onslaught of anger and hate from my fellow children of God," Turner said in the news release. "I now have a deeper sympathy for civil rights activists like Vivian Malone, James Meredith, The Little Rock Nine, and countless others.
"Today, people shouted ‘USA’ at us as though it was an attack — as though the United States was no place for Black men seeking justice. It is a sad day in Tulsa, but I will not be deterred in this fight. By God as my helper, I will endure this fiery furnace, and we as a people will make it to the promised land. Our people will know justice."
The news release included a link to a Youtube video that reportedly shows Turner arriving at City Hall. In the seven-minute video, protesters began chanting "U-S-A" after one unidentified woman approaches Turner.
The video goes on to show one protester dangling money in front of Turner. The man can be heard asking Turner, "How much do you want?" in the video. At one point, a water bottle is thrown at Turner, and two women can be seen holding his arm and megaphone asking for him to talk to them.
In the public Facebook group "Tulsa Citizens Against Mask Mandates," one person posted a link to the video saying, "This is not a good look for this group."
Debbie Robertson, an administrator for the group, said in a Facebook message that Turner wasn't "assaulted in any way" and that he escalated the situation.
"(Turner) turned his megaphone to full blast and verbally assaulted all of us," Robertson said. "He said all whites are racist and must pay him reparations. He was so loud we could not hear our people speaking on our small sound system.
"We were peacefully protesting. He could have chosen a different corner but deliberately walked right into our crowd and started all that. I tried to talk to him."
Turner said in the news release that he plans to press for assault charges in connection with the incident. It was unknown as of Wednesday night whether a police report had been filed.
A Tulsa Police Department dispatcher confirmed that a complaint of a disturbance in the area was made about that time about someone disrupting a protest. Officers arrived and left the scene within a few minutes, the dispatcher said.
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