The City Sentinel staff
From Darla Shelden of The City Sentinel (Oklahoma City, July 10) – In wake of recent fatal shootings of black Americans, Black Lives Matter Oklahoma, OKC Artists for Justice, NAACP OKC, the MLK Coalition, and the ACLU of Oklahoma will hold a peaceful protest and memorial vigil in “solidarity with the impacted families and communities.”
The gathering will take place in the Bricktown district at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10, at the Harkins Theater Fountain, 150 E. Reno. An optional march will step off at 5:15 p.m. from the historic Calvary Baptist Church (now the Dan Davis Law Center), 300 N. Walnut.
Built in 1921, Calvary Baptist was the scene of a “Freedom Rally” where famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on July 29, 1960 to a crowd of about 1,500 Oklahoman's. Added to the National Register in 1978, the church was a staging area for sit-ins and a rallying point for marches.
“We are gathering with unity and peace to have enlightening and educational conversations,” said Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma. “This event is about solidarity. In no way are we trying to vilify or alienate law enforcement, which would be totally contradictory to our baseline cause.”
The City Sentinel reported that event organizers expressed “heartfelt condolences to the families of the officers who lost their lives in Dallas on Thursday evening. The shooters who callously and horrifically took the lives of the innocent officers in Dallas are not affiliated with Black Lives Matter.”
Partnering organizations say they were promoting unifying and peaceful dialogue, calling attention to “injustice rather than creating new injustices.”
Karen Gains, co-organizer for Black Lives Matter OK, said, “We, like the rest of the world, are praying for the victims of Dallas. Our peaceful protest and memorial vigil is meant to honor those we have lost due to unnecessary violence and to call our leaders to pursue adamant justice.”
Event organizers are working closely with local law enforcement to ensure security for attendees.
As reported by KGOU’s Kate Greer Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said, “We support peaceful protesting. We always have. It’s the community’s right to be heard. We want to make sure that those protesters are also secure in what they want to do because they do have a right to do that.”
“We cannot allow fear to prevent us from standing up for what is right,” said Auzia Antwine, also of Black Lives Matter OK. “We must continue to stand up for black lives and the lives of all citizens in this country even, and especially, in the case of adversity.” Participants were asked to wear black in solidarity with “those who have lost their lives, their family members whose lives are changed forever, and those who continue to live their everyday life in fear of falling victim to excessive force.”
Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma, said the event “is an opportunity to peacefully serve notice that we will not stand for a system that represents an ever present threat to people of color and unnecessarily jeopardizes the lives of law enforcement officers.”
BLM-OK co-organizer Sheri Amore said, “I am horrified and greatly saddened by the tragedy that occurred in Dallas, Texas as the peaceful protest BLM event was coming to a close. Our thoughts and prayers extend to each officer and their families, as well as any civilians that were injured and affected in this heinous crime.”
Information is available at the Black Lives Matter Oklahoma’s Facebook Event Page. ACLU-OK posted a “mobile justice app” with information regarding citizen’s rights when protesting, encountering law enforcement, or filming encounters with law enforcement.
From Patrick B. McGuigan, editor
OKLAHOMA CITY – A Washington Post investigation last year found a total of 990 police-involved killings across the U.S., including 32 in Oklahoma.
Nationally, in four percent of the cases, the incident involved white police officers killing an unarmed black man. The Post also found that although black males account for 6 percent of the U.S. population, 40 percent of unarmed males shot to death by police were black.
Nationwide, as of December 24, 2015, 90 of the people killed by police were not armed. Of the 990 persons killed, 948 were males, and 42 were females. The Post study found 494 whites were killed by police officers, while 258 were black, 172 were Hispanic, and 66 were “other.”
Records indicated 250 of those killed by police had some form of mental illness, the other 740 did not or that could not be discerned. The Post analysis determined attacks were in progress in 730 shootings, while 216 were in other circumstances, with 44 “not sure.”
In Oklahoma, a total of 32 men were shot to death by police, according to The Post. Twenty were white, nine were black, one was Hispanic and two were “unknown.” An attack was in progress in 26 of the state shootings, while in six cases circumstances were “other” or “unknown.”
For the national study, according to the newspaper, “The Post compiled data about each death, including the race of those killed, whether they were armed and descriptions of the events.”
The newspaper reported, “In October , the agency’s director, James B. Comey, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that journalists had become the leading source of information on the subject. In December, an FBI official told The Post the agency is overhauling how it tracks violent police encounters. …” The Post staff prepared graphics
Editor’s note: This combined report is edited from longer and more detailed stories at The City Sentinel website … here and here.