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Black Officers Coalition, TPD Respond to Major's Comments on Racism, Shooting Black Americans

Tulsa Police Department

The Tulsa Police Department issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it and Chief Wendell Franklin "do not endorse, condone or support" comments by Maj. Travis Yates on a local radio show earlier this week.

Yates said systemic racism in policing "just doesn't exist" and that police are shooting black Americans "about 24% less than we probably ought to be." Yates has said he was offering a hypothetical based on use-of-force research.

Tulsa Black Officers Coalition President Lt. Marcus Harper responded to Yates' comments separately from TPD in a Tuesday news conference.

"He’s a grown man. He said what he said, and he meant what he said. It’s all — it’s like he’s trying to appease a certain audience, and that audience is the law enforcement community. What’s dangerous is when those inside of the law enforcement community are influenced by what he says," Harper said.

Harper said Yates' comments also hurt work officers are doing to build relationships with a black community that does not trust TPD and that they reflect a strained relationship between the department's black and white officers.

"It’s there, OK? It’s there. There’s no way to avoid it. There’s no meeting we can have at this point to try to sit down and figure out what we’re going to do next because we’re tired of sitting down and talking about it. It’s time for some action to take place, so," Harper said.

TPD's statement also said Yates’ comments do not align with the department’s mission, values or policies, and they were made while he was off-duty and not representing TPD.

The matter has been referred to internal affairs.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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