Clergy-Led March Against Police Violence Combines Prayer, Calls For Justice

Jun 8, 2020

An assemblage of faith communities met at the Greenwood Cultural Center on Monday morning for a rally and march to Tulsa City Hall to demand an end to police violence, the latest such event following the brutal, caught-on-camera killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

A crowd of an estimated 200 people carried signs in support of Black Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement, and were joined and led in prayer and song by leaders of Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, AME, and other Christian denominations. 

Rev. Warren Blakney of the North Peoria Church of Christ said he was moved to tears by the video of Floyd's killing, and called on attendees not to stop marching until they achieve their goal.

"What I encourage us to do today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after: if all you've got is your voice, use your voice!" he said. "Every day go back and demand of all of these officers: Give us justice!"

A clergyman identified only as "Brother Jonathan" led a prayer of hope.

"Father, hear the cries of your people. We want peace, but we also want to breathe," he said. "Holy God, let our voices ring so loud this morning that the City of Tulsa, the state of Oklahoma, and these United States of America have no other choice but to hear what we have to say."

In addition to clergy, some political figures attended, including Oklahoma Rep. Regina Goodwin (D-Tulsa) and Alicia Andrews, the first African-American chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, who encouraged attendees to vote in the upcoming June 30th elections.

"The mayor is not on the ballot," Andrews said, referring to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, a Republican, who some speakers criticized, "but let's make him sit up and take notice."

"Vote like your life depends on it - because it does."

The marchers peacefully proceeded from the cultural center to City Hall, with Tulsa Police Department officers blocking traffic for them and organizers leading them in songs like "This Little Light of Mine." 

Former TPD chief Drew Diamond, representing the Jewish community, said it was time for Bynum to be "held accountable," and echoed chants heard across the county.

"No justice, no peace," he yelled, to applause. "Black Lives Matter."