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Mayor Issues Statement On Multiple Police Controversies

Brian Nutt / City of Tulsa
City of Tulsa
Jan. 2020 file photo of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum flanked by current Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin (left) and former TPD Chief Chuck Jordan.

This article was updated at 10:52 a.m., June 10th, to include a response from the Mayor's Office.

With police brutality and institutional racism in the national spotlight following last month's killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum issued a statement Wednesday morning addressing growing controversies involving his administration and the Tulsa Police Department.

First, Bynum apologized for remarks he made during an interview with CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend, where, in response to a direct question, he stated that Terence Crutcher's 2016 killing by TPD officer Betty Shelby would not have happened any differently were he white instead of Black.  

"It is more about the really insidious nature of drug utilization than it is about race, in my opinion," Bynum said Sunday.

"I would hope that my work during 8 years on the City Council and 4 years in the Mayor’s Office would speak louder than one dumb and overly-simplistic answer to a complex question, but I understand if it doesn’t," Bynum said. "My greatest fear - as a husband, a dad, and as a mayor - is letting down the people who count on me. I’m sorry for letting people down in a critical moment."

Bynum went on to describe as "dumb" comments made on a podcast this week by TPD Maj. Travis Yates, who said that systemic racism in American law enforcement "just doesn't exist," and suggested that, according to research, police officers shoot Black Americans less frequently than data would indicate they "probably ought to." 

"He does not speak for my administration, for the Tulsa Police Department, or the City of Tulsa," Bynum said. "His comments are under review by the Chief’s Office. And if he didn’t mean to make the statement in the way it has been received, he owes Tulsans a clarification and an apology."

And in response to video released by TPD of a Thursday incident in which officers handcuffed two Black teenagers on allegations of "jaywalking," Bynum said "no Tulsa kid should have to fear being tackled and cuffed for walking down the street."

Read Bynum's full statement here. A spokesperson for the mayor declined a request for an interview, saying that "the statement speaks for itself."

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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