Black Lives Matter

(Note: This conversation first aired back in April.) Our guest on StudioTulsa is Dr. Fern L. Johnson, a Senior Research Scholar and Professor Emerita at Clark University who focuses on race and culture. She and her partner, Marlene G.

Illustration by Marlin Lavanhar (via The Black Wall Street Times)

On this edition of ST, we're pleased to speak with Marlin Lavanhar, a Unitarian Universalist minister who's been based at All Souls Church here in Tulsa since 2000. A longtime social justice activist and tireless human rights advocate, Lavanhar recently launched a series of editorial cartoons focused on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre -- and on the urgent need for reparations to be conveyed to those directly affected by this vast, tragic, century-old crime.

Stitt Signs Bill To Crack Down On Protesters

Apr 22, 2021
Chris Polansky / KWGS News

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Wednesday to crack down on protesters by increasing penalties for blocking roadways and granting immunity to motorists who kill or injure rioters.

The bill was one of 44 bills signed into law by the Republican governor and one of a series of GOP-backed proposals across the country aimed at cracking down on protesters.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The Reverend Joe Crutcher says he's kept a close watch on happenings in Minneapolis since last May, when video of police officer Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd made international headlines and sparked a worldwide movement against systemic racism and police violence.

"Me and my wife, we'd sit up and watch the whole George Floyd episode as it unfolded last year," Crutcher said at a press conference in downtown Tulsa Tuesday afternoon, shortly after a Minnesota jury handed down a guilty verdict against Chauvin for Floyd's murder.

Our guest on StudioTulsa is Dr. Fern L. Johnson, a Senior Research Scholar and Professor Emerita at Clark University who focuses on race and culture. She and her partner, Marlene G. Fine, are the white parents of African American sons, and they're also the co-authors of a new book, "Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People." The book aims to provide personal insights as well as practical guidance -- along with ample research findings, prompts for personal reflection, a variety of race-oriented conversation-starters, and a useful list of "dos" and "don'ts."

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Members of Oklahoma's Legislative Black Caucus this week questioned Republican House leaders' decision not to hear several police reform bills this session.

Civil rights groups and activists say Oklahoma is not alone in considering a flurry of anti-protest legislation after protests last year over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. 

"However, Oklahoma has the most anti-protest, anti-speech, anti-freedom bills — has one of the most anti-protest bills across the country," ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Tamya Cox-Touré said during a virtual town hall hosted by the Black Wall Street Times.

Oklahoma House of Representatives

In a late vote in the early morning hours Wednesday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill that would grant protections to drivers who use their cars to injure or kill protestors, if they were "fleeing a riot" and claimed "a reasonable belief [that] their actions were necessary to protect them from serious injury or death."

Tulsa County District Attorney's Office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — When massive demonstrations against racial injustice erupted across the nation last summer, protesters used an increasingly common tactic to draw attention to their cause: swarming out onto major roads to temporarily paralyze traffic. 

This method sometimes resulted in searing images of drivers plowing through crowds, causing serious injuries and in some cases, deaths.

Photo Credit Union Theological Seminary

Our guest is the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, a well-known theologian who grew up in Oklahoma and is now the President and Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. (Union is an interdenominational seminary that was established in 1836.) Formerly a professor at Yale Divinity School, Dr. Jones has published many articles and books over the years, and she's an ordained minister in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. On Sunday the 31st, Dr.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Wednesday that his office has declined requests from the Tulsa Police Department to bring charges against individuals alleged to have painted "Black Lives Matter" messages on city streets.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

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.

Our guest is Connor Towne O'Neill, whose writing has appeared in New York Magazine, Vulture, and Slate, and who works as a producer on the NPR podcast, White Lies. He joins us to discuss his first book, which is just out. It's called "Down Along with That Devil's Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy." Per Publishers Weekly, the book offers "an eloquent and provocative examination of the links between protests over Confederate monuments in the South and the resurgence of white supremacy.... O'Neill writes with grace and genuine curiosity....

Oklahoma House of Representatives

The Oklahoma House of Representatives Public Safety Committee spent most of Tuesday hearing from witnesses in two separate policing-related interim studies with two separate focal points: how best to support law enforcement, and how best to reform it.

Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-Lane), who chairs the committee, said his study was meant to identify ways in which the legislature can best support law enforcement officers and agencies.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The city of Tulsa removed a massive Black Lives Matter painting on Monday from a city street in the historic Greenwood District after activists painted it without the city’s permission.

The 250-foot-long (76.20 meters) sign was painted days before President Donald Trump’s June rally and weeks after George Floyd’s death in May after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the neck of the handcuffed Black man for several minutes.

(Note: This interview first aired back in May.) Our guest is Walter Johnson, the Winthrop Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. His new book is a far-reaching, unflinching, and complicated account of race relations in his hometown: St. Louis, Missouri. From Lewis and Clark's 1804 expedition to the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, the course of American events, Johnson argues, has been charted in St. Louis.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Several predominately white Tulsa churches have painted "Black Lives Matter" messages on their properties.

At least four churches painted their messages Wednesday, four years to the day after a white Tulsa police officer shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man. More are expected to paint "Black Lives Matter" on their properties in the coming days.

We're pleased to welcome the Tulsa-based attorney, historian, and author Hannibal B. Johnson back to StudioTulsa. An active and well-respected expert on matters of diversity, inclusion, and social justice, Johnson is also the education chair for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission. He joins us to discuss his newest book, "Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma." As was noted of this volume by Dr.

The annual, free-to-the-public TU Presidential Lecture Series presents engaging and well-known speakers from a range of backgrounds. This year, given the pandemic, the Presidential Lecture Series will be offered as an "online only" event; it happens on Thursday night, the 10th, at 7:30pm. The speaker will be the bestselling author and activist Wes Moore, who's also the Chief Executive Officer of Robin Hood Foundation, one of the largest anti-poverty organizations in the US. Moore is our guest on StudioTulsa.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The Tulsa City Council recommended Wednesday the Black Lives Matter mural on Greenwood Avenue stay — for now.

Councilors approved a recommendation to Mayor G.T. Bynum saying the $20,000 it will take to remove the street painting is wasteful when a street resurfacing project is in the works. The mural is in City Councilor Kara Joy McKee’s district.

Two weeks ago, members of the Tulsa City Council voted to postpone a decision on what action, if any, to take regarding the "BLACK LIVES MATTER" street mural painted in the days leading up to Juneteenth and President Trump's controversial rally in Tulsa. 

On Wednesday afternoon, they again reached no consensus, leaving the matter for a future meeting.

Four Arrested At Tulsa Trump Rally Plead Not Guilty

Aug 7, 2020

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Four people arrested at a Tulsa campaign rally for President Donald Trump, including a Tulsa teacher and a Norman City Council member, pleaded not guilty Thursday to misdemeanor obstruction charges.

A committee meeting of the Tulsa City Council held virtually on Wednesday grew tense at times as councilors discussed the "Black Lives Matter" mural on the street surface of a block of North Greenwood Avenue.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

It's he-said-they-said between Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and key stakeholders in the Greenwood District, as the conflict continues over whether or not the unauthorized "BLACK LIVES MATTER" mural on Greenwood Avenue can remain.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The city of Tulsa announced Monday that it intends to follow through on its plans to remove the Black Lives Matter painting on the roadway of North Greenwood Avenue

The unauthorized street painting, completed in the lead-up to Juneteenth and President Trump's visit to Tulsa, was a subject of discussion at a Tulsa City Council committee meeting last week, where it was  concluded it would be removed due to not having a city-issued permit, and potentially opening the doors to legally having to allow any other painted messages.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Greenwood's proclamation that "BLACK LIVES MATTER" will be erased from the road surface by the city of Tulsa.

In a Wednesday meeting of the Tulsa City Council's committee on urban and economic development, councilors, attorneys and a representative from City Hall discussed what to do about the painting, which was done without a city permit.

The discussion was raised by Councilor Cass Fahler, who said that pro-police groups have inquired about the legality of painting their own message -- "BACK THE BLUE" -- on some other block in Tulsa. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced Thursday that his office will not be pursuing charges against the driver of a truck who drove through a crowd on I-244 during a protest on May 31st.

Protesters Arrested Outside Oklahoma County DA’s Office

Jul 21, 2020
Oklahoma District Attorneys Council

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Several protesters who want Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater to reopen an investigation into the 2019 killing of a teenager by police were arrested after holding a sit-in outside Prater’s office.

Several dozen protesters marched from a downtown Oklahoma City park to the courthouse, where several demanded to meet with Prater and asked for his resignation.

Our guest is Dr. Syeachia Dennis, who joined the OU-Tulsa family medicine residency program in 2013, and who more recently completed a master's program from the John Hopkins School of Public Health. An Oklahoma native, Dr. Dennis is an Assistant Professor in the OU-Tulsa School of Community Medicine's Department of Family Medicine. She joins us for a candid, local-level discussion about the racial disparities that exist today in American health care: troubling, long-running disparities in access, treatment, perceptions, and outcomes. Dr.

Facebook / Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City’s local Black Lives Matter chapter posted a total of $1.4 million in cash bonds to release four protesters from jail who were arrested and charged with various crimes during demonstrations against police brutality and racism.

With help from the National Bail Fund Network, Black Lives Matter paid a $750,000 bond to release Eric Christopher Ruffin on Thursday.

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