Black Anxiety of Tulsa police lingers 100 years Later massacre

There's been undeniable progress in the association between the Tulsa authorities and the town's Black community in the past 100 decades. Then again, it's hard to imagine it might have gotten worse.

Black Anxiety of Tulsa police lingers 100 years Later massacre

Complaints about police prejudice and a lack of minority officers remain. But the police chief is currently a Black man out of north Tulsa, the area which includes what once was America's wealthiest Black business district.

Back in 1921 -- years prior to the Civil Rights Movement -- even the thought of a Black police chief would have been contested. That year, Greenwood -- the Black north Tulsa neighborhood that includes the area called Black Wall Street -- was burned to the floor with assistance in the practically all-white Tulsa Police Department. Sparked by accusations a 19-year-old Black man had assaulted a 17-year-old white woman in an elevator, the Tulsa Race Massacre left as many as 300 Black people lifeless and tens of thousands of Black residents displaced. Thirty-five square cubes were torched and damages spiraled into the millions.

Tulsa's police department deputized white dinosaurs and provided them with arms. Numerous reports describe white men with badges placing fires and shooting Black people as part of the Greenwood invasion. According to an Associated Press article from the time, Black men and women that were driven from their houses by the hundreds shouted,"Don't shoot!" As they hurried through the flames.

After the massacre went mostly ignored for decades, consciousness has increased in recent years. Police Chief Chuck Jordan stood in Greenwood at 2013 and apologized for the department's role.

"But as your main now, I will apologize for our police department. I am sorry and distressed that the Tulsa Police Department didn't protect its own citizens during the tragic days in 1921."

The appointment of Wendell Franklin to triumph Jordan last year is seen by some as a measure of progress. But Black Tulsans state that is not enough.

"I think it's something that the community needs to view," said Ina Sharon Mitchell, a 70-year-old woman who had been raised in north Tulsa. "But how much does that change really go when the doors are closed?"

In a 2018 Gallup-Tulsa Citivoice Index poll designed to quantify quality of life issues, just 18% of Black residents stated they hope authorities"a lot," compared to 49% of white residents, and 46% of Black Tulsans said they trust that the Police Department"not at all" or"not much," compared to 16% of whites.

Shelby -- a white girl -- was acquitted of manslaughter. She was reassigned at the section before resigning. For Dark Tulsans who grew up studying what happened in Greenwood, Crutcher's killing attracted old pain back into the surface.

"I believe that my brother killing really unearthed a century of racial strain in Tulsa, Oklahoma," said Tiffany Crutcher, Terence Crutcher's twin sister who is also coordinating commemoration events to the anniversary of the massacre.

Crutcher said the association between Tulsa's police and the neighborhood is still strained.

"Here in Tulsa, explicitly and specifically, there isn't a excellent connection between law enforcement and the Black community, Black and brown communities," she explained. "The relationship is not great at all. There is no hope there."

Crutcher started the Terence Crutcher Foundation with a goal to bridge the anxiety and mistrust between Black communities and law enforcement. She is frustrated with the lack of advancement in Tulsa and is especially disappointed in Franklin.

"This is someone who doesn't believe -- someone who looks like me -- that the Tulsa Police Department has a problem with racially biased policing," she explained.

"He states the problem doesn't exist. So for me personally, I don't care what colour you are, but if you've got a track record in building relationships with the community and doing what is fair in neighborhood policing, then I can deal with you. Placing someone in that position that looks like us is only a shallow act of putting lipstick on a pig"

Franklin did not respond to several interview requests. Throughout his tenure, he's said police need better instruction in handling the public. However he insisted before an Oklahoma legislative panel after 2020′s nationwide protests over racial bias in policing that recruiting new officers is difficult because of developing anti-law enforcement public opinion.

"Quite honestly, who'd wish to come do that job with everything placed upon us," he explained.

Greg Robinson, the 31-year-old heritage secretary of Demanding a JUSTulsa and Director of Family and Community Ownership at Met Cares Foundation, said there is a lack of transparency from the Tulsa Police Department.

"I feel the main problem is there is not a system of citizen oversight or accountability," he said. "I think that is really where we're falling down. It is not that all police are bad because they're not. But everybody in our community is not a criminal, either.

Mitchell said back at the 1950s and 1960s, there were more Black officers, which fostered the feeling of a partnership. It is different today -- in 2019, according to the division's yearly report, 8.4percent of employees were Black, compared to 15.1% of the city total population.

"If I was a kid and raised upward, the majority of the police officers appeared just like me," she explained. "They dwelt in the community, so the connection of the Police Department and the neighborhood was one-on-one. They knew the children. They knew the schools they went to. Now, you do not have this."

Robinson, who also is a board member for the Terence Crutcher Foundation, remains hopeful that change can occur. He considers that it would begin with outreach in law enforcement and local oversight and inclusion from the Black community. The fact that Franklin is from the area aids Robinson remain optimistic.

"I expect that through his sanity that he could begin to inject, gauge the neighborhood around the modifications that we have been advocating for," Robinson stated. "So far, it has not happened, but he is somebody who climbed up out north. He should understand it. And I would hope that he would be brave enough to really include us and involve us."

Crutcher has taken her struggle beyond Oklahoma. She said some of her recommendations are included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which is under consideration. She stated she was in Washington this spring with the family of Floyd, who had been murdered by police last year at Minneapolis, along with relatives of Botham Jean and Eric Garner, who also died at the hands of police, pushing for the invoice.

She said her brother told her in their last conversation that he was planning to make her very happy, and that"God will get the glory from my life."

"I believe that the work that I've done -- this righteous fight -- the fact that we're at the precipice of some type of change -- is living evidence of Terence's final announcement to me," she said. "But we have so much work to do."

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