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Demonstrations Opposing White Supremacy, Supporting Police Expected Downtown Saturday

Chris Polansky
Demonstrators at a prayer march in Tulsa's Greenwood District on June 8, 2020.

A number of demonstrations are scheduled around Tulsa Saturday, with potentially thousands gathering for a prayer march with the Tulsa Police Department and separate rallies against white supremacy.

TPD and Sheridan Church are scheduled to lead a "Faith In Blue" march, a faith-based event in support of law enforcement, from John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park on North Greenwood Avenue to TPD headquarters. The march was originally routed down through the heart of the Greenwood District, but Chief Wendell Franklin said he got "unsettling news" that there may be counterprotests.

"This march is nothing more than to unite people, not to divide people, and my hope is it goes off as such," Franklin told the Tulsa City Council on Wednesday. "So, that's a hurdle that we are dealing with or have dealt with, and hopefully we've put that to rest."

Sheridan Church Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer said he was motivated to participate to show support for law enforcement and signal his opposition to Black Lives Matter -- the "terrorist organization," he said, not the largely peaceful protest movement.

"They're winning the war. They are right now. They've got a lot of momentum. They own the narrative right now. We've got to change the frequency of what's going out," Lahmeyer said in a Facebook Live video promoting the march.

Councilor Kara Joy McKee was the lone Tulsa City Councilor not to vote to grant the march's special event application, instead abstaining. She said she worried that Sheridan Church would not ensure participants would abide by COVID best practices, including enforcing mask usage.

Lahmeyer told Public Radio Tulsa Friday he would encourage masks and distribute them to attendees who want them, but that they would not be required.

Meanwhile, Tulsa Anti-Racist Action plans to hold a march beginning at the nearby Greenwood Cultural Center to disavow "white supremacy and police brutality." 

The Black Wall Street Times will host a separate, "'Good Trouble' Black Lives Matter" event at the Center of the Universe at Archer and Boston.

"We’re going to let the City of Tulsa know that we aren’t okay with its anti-Black acts and continued racist antagonism through its governmental systems," a Facebook page for the event reads. "The removal of the mural, less than a year from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial, was the final blow."

The city of Tulsa this week removed an unpermitted "BLACK LIVES MATTER" street painting on North Greenwood Avenue put down in the weeks between George Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police and President Trump's Tulsa rally on the weekend of Juneteenth. Mayor G.T. Bynum said he thought the mural was "beautiful" but he, the city's attorneys, and the majority of the city council agreed it had to be removed regardless of the message.

All three events are scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. ONEOK Field will also be hosting a free watch party for the OU - Texas Red River Rivalry game, scheduled to kickoff at 11:00 a.m.

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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