Demonstrators: City of Tulsa ignoring African American voices

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-10 07:09:12-04

A group of demonstrators showed up outside the Tulsa City Hall Thursday saying they're tired of being ignored as they call for an African Affairs Commission and more inclusion in city government.

The city has similar commissions in place for other groups like the Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission and the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission.

Vanessa Hall-Harper, who is running for the Tulsa city council District 1 seat in November, organized the protest and two others held months back. She said she is disgusted by the lack of progress.

"I'm frustrated about how we are being ignored," she said.

A spokeswoman for the city said Mayor Dewey Bartlett completed a draft ordinance calling for the new commission and it was delivered to the council last week. She said it will likely appear on the agenda for the council to consider next week. It will then go to Tulsa county commissioners for approval.

The mayor's plan would include an 11 member commission; four chosen by the county and approved by the mayor and council. The remaining seven members would be appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council.

Hall-Harper said the protesters will show up next week and encourage council members to vote against the ordinance because they feel they have been excluded from the planning process.

Demonstrator Willetta Burks said the group is simply seeking a seat at the table in decision making that affects their community.

"A lot of times, people tend to say 'if it's not my issue, it's not important'. But it's important to us. We have been left out of the city's decisions," she said.