Hundreds of Tulsans participated in a local demonstration on Saturday calling for policing reform, joining protesters in cities across the U.S. speaking out against recent killings of black men and women by white men and police.
Organizers of the "We Can't Breathe" peaceful protest said the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd brought racism in America to the forefront and renewed the call for justice and true reform.
"Here in Tulsa, we know this pain all too well. We have watched as Eric Harris, Terence Crutcher, Joshua Barre and Joshua Harvey were murdered at the hands of law enforcement officers. We have watched as the community has protested, rallied, met with local officials, spoken out at city hall meetings and fought ceaselessly for change for years on end," organizer Nate Morris said in a news release.
The demonstration in Tulsa called for specific actions from Mayor G.T. Bynum: Implement his proposed Office of the Independent Monitor to review police uses of force and internal investigations; settle cases brought against the city by the families of Terence Crutcher, Joshua Barre and Joshua Harvey, all black men killed by police; spend more on mental health training and support for Tulsa police and less on efforts involving force; and immediately end the city's contract with the reality TV show "Live PD."
The protest started around 1 p.m. on Peoria Avenue near 34th Street. Participants laid in the street before briefly marching north. The crowd then marched south, reaching I-44 around 2:30 p.m. and spreading out on the highway.
Tulsa Police and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol shut down I-44. Demonstrators started leaving the highway around 3 p.m. after Rev. Robert Turner of Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church suggested walking "to the mayor's house."