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TPD Chief: Department Prepared For Massacre Centennial Gatherings, Demonstrations, Biden Visit

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Chris Polansky
/
KWGS News
Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin (at lectern) addresses reporters at TPD headquarters ahead of the coming events and demonstrations planned to commemorate the Tulsa Race Massacre centennial anniversary.

Tulsa is preparing for its second consecutive June featuring thousands of visitors, demonstrations and a visit from the President of the United States, and the head of the city's police force said Wednesday they're better prepared from having experienced it last year.

"We're going to do the exact same thing that we did during the last presidential visit," Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin told reporters at a Wednesday news conference at Tulsa Police Department headquarters, invoking the memory of then-President Donald Trump's campaign stop last year while commenting on security protocol for President Joe Biden's impending visit during the centennial commemorations of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. 

"It's definitely been very helpful having endured what we endured last year. That has certainly helped us gain some -- in our planning, it's helped us gain a little bit of experience for our officers in dealing with crowds, so we're well prepared for that," Franklin said.

The chief said the federal Department of Homeland Security had advised law enforcement agencies nationwide that all mass gatherings, like the ones planned in Tulsa in the coming days, are at high risk for domestic terror attacks. Franklin said local, state and federal law enforcement will all be in place, and every officer in the entire department will be on-duty or on-call over the coming days.

Franklin said there are certain activities TPD will not tolerate.

"We're going to protect the peaceful assembly of all citizens -- we are not going to allow bridges, overpasses and streets to be impeded by any groups that don't have the proper permits," he said. 

Franklin said officers' body cameras are functioning and will be in use, following their being disabled as a result of the cyberattack on the city of Tulsa earlier this month. He said dashboard cameras are still down.

He said that law enforcement is prepared for large groups of armed demonstrators converging on the city from out of state.

"We know that with so many people coming, if they are armed and, again, it is a mass gathering of an event, if something sparks, if something takes place, then we have to respond differently than we would a crowd that's unarmed," Franklin said. "So we know that. Our teams are ready for that. We just hope that doesn't happen."

Franklin, a Tulsa native, said he recognizes the stakes of keeping order over the days commemorating the centennial anniversary.

"I know what took place on Black Wall Street 100 years ago," Franklin said. "I don't want to mark in history that there was violence & unrest in our city, in our streets, 100 years later. That is always in the back of my mind."

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