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Editorial: Make protecting Greenwood and its owners, customers a city priority

Editorial: Make protecting Greenwood and its owners, customers a city priority

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Black Wall Street

Historic buildings on Greenwood Avenue house new businesses. this year will be the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, which wiped out the African-American business district that stretched along Greenwood Avenue from the Santa Fe Railroad tracks as far north as Pine Street. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World

Hundreds of thousands of tourists are expected to arrive in the Greenwood District around the anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, but safety concerns are year-round.

Centennial remembrances and events are being planned on the date of tragedy, May 31 to June 1. Its history and significance to the current civil rights movement are attracting national and international attention.

A sad reality is that high-profile landmarks also sometimes attract people with malevolent intent. We only have to look at the latest mass shootings to be reminded how quickly public spaces can become scenes of violence.

Much can and should be done to safeguard the Greenwood District.

Threats already have been made, according to Freeman Culver, Greenwood Chamber of Commerce president. It has prompted a plea to city officials for help ensuring that the district’s owners and patrons are protected from danger.

Suggestions include possible street closures to accommodate pedestrians, ample lighting and added security detail. These are reasonable requests that should be seriously considered.

City officials say they are working with Greenwood owners on safety plans and encourage concerns be emailed to Police Chief Wendell Franklin at tpdchief@cityoftulsa.org. That’s an important relationship to foster.

The concern isn’t just for the anniversary date. Many events related to the massacre will occur throughout the year and beyond, such as documentary releases, new books, media stories and art installations.

Visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., go through an exhibit of artifacts and photos of the massacre.

People learn about the massacre through different means at different times. It’s part of an ongoing conversation about race with Tulsa playing an integral role.

The result is a need for continuous monitoring of the Greenwood District for public safety. Threats are not likely to be made during one time of year; it requires constant vigilance.

The city must do all it can in partnership with Greenwood residents to make sure it is never a home to violence again.


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