TULSA - A time for hope and healing.
That's the message civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson had for those still reeling from the Good Friday shootings on April 6th, which left three dead and two injured.
Jackson was the guest speaker at the First Baptist Church in North Tulsa on Saturday night.
Jackson prayed with the victims and their families and praised city leaders for their response.
"Tulsa had the potential to be even more explosive than Sanford (Florida -site of Trayvon Martin saga), but the mayor and police chief stepped up to the plate. Mr. Mayor, we thank you," said Jackson.
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, who was in attendance along with his wife, called Jackson a man of faith.
Jackson said while he is glad the shooting spree suspects are charged with five hate crimes, in addition to murder and attempted murder, he said Oklahoma's misdemeanor hate crime penalty isn't strong enough.
"Hate crimes are hateful and they are sinful and they hurt and kill people," said Jackson. "Hate crimes should be felonies."
Jackson also criticized the state's gun laws, which he said contributes to crime.
"We must end concealed weapons," he said.
He also spoke about inequalities in the economic and justice systems, which he said hurt poor people the most.
"We have some heavy lifting to do. You are well-dressed stressed people," he told the crowd of hundreds gathered to see him.
Jackson is no stranger to controversy, but Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson had a message for those who had criticized the civil rights leader's visit.
"All those people that told you Jesse Jackson was here to stir up some mess, you're going to be able to tell them they don't know what they're talking about," said Henderson.
The overriding message of Jackson's speech was about hope and healing from the shooting spree.
"God will heal our land. It's healing time Tulsa," he said.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Also in the headlines
Lottery officials have announced winning numbers in a near-historic Powerball jackpot.