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Bynum comments on peaceful protests Saturday, Tulsa pastor responds

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Posted at 8:39 PM, May 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 15:36:03-04

Mayor G.T. Bynum released a statement on Facebook in response to the peaceful protest held on Brookside Saturday afternoon.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter protest in Brookside

Bynum said: "I respect the Tulsans who used their time today to show other Tulsans that they care for the lives of their neighbors - that they want this to be a better city and that every life is sacred. I want to thank the men and women of the Tulsa Police Department who worked throughout the day to keep the protesters safe as they voiced their beliefs."

We Can’t Breath Peaceful Protest organizers held a press conference outside of Tulsa City Hall Building on Monday in response to the weekend protests.

After the organizers finished their press conference they met with Mayor G.T. Bynum and Chief Franklin inside City Hall.

During that conference, Mayor G.T. Bynum agrees to end contract with Live PD and will announce alternative in the coming weeks at a meeting between the mayor, Tulsa police Chief Franklin and protest organizers today.

On Sunday, Rev. Dr. Robert Richard Allen Turner Pastor, Historic Vernon AME Church responded to Bynum's statement.

"Yesterday, we marched 4.5 miles in 85 degree weather on city streets and federal highways; chanting in remembrance of George Floyd, Terrance Crutcher, Joshua Barre, Eric Harris, Sandra Bland, Treyvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and countless other innocent African Americans whose lives were taken by racists in power – their perpetrators not brought to justice. Protestors of all races, ages, and religions marched through the streets together in support of a change long overdue. No violence. No vandalism. Just love. My heart was warmed by this, but then I read a Facebook post written by the Mayor of Tulsa. G.T. Bynum, the mayor of the city I live in and have grown to deeply love, characterized this peaceful demonstration as an attempt to intimidate him. Our mayor, who refused to take any of our phone calls, text, or emails leading up to and during this event, couldn’t even pick up the phone to share his thoughts with his citizens. We wanted to voice our grievances to him directly, and peacefully, and give him the opportunity to speak before the marchers. As we began towards his home, peacefully, our mayor, seemingly afraid to talk before his own citizens, left his house.

So we kept marching. We kept waiting for him to agree to meet with us. We marched on as we waited for a call that would never come.

Instead, several hours later, Mayor Bynum took the time to write an eight paragraph self-congratulatory campaign speech on Facebook. While bragging about his accomplishments, most of which were done in response to major community protest (and have yet to be given the teeth or achieve the results many hoped would have come to pass by now), Mayor Bynum chastised our movement and our needs. His citizens are upset over a range of issues – police brutality, the city’s failure with the mass grave excavation, Live PD exploiting our community. Are these not valid concerns?

Mayor Bynum never thanked the protestors for carrying out one of the largest and most peaceful protests in the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Furthermore, this mayor never even showed concern for one of our protestors, a citizen of this city, being struck by a reckless truck driver.

No. Instead, Mayor Bynum said he was intimidated.

As the pastor of Historic Vernon AME Church, where our basement is the only intact structure that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre on Greenwood, I speak on behalf of many Tulsans north and south of Interstate 244. Mr. Mayor, in Greenwood, we know what real intimidation looks like. The blood of the ancestors that were slaughtered here in this city still cries out from the hallowed grounds of the worst race massacre in American history. Moreover, to this day, their descendants have not received reparations! How dare you insult their legacy by saying a peaceful protest was an act of intimidation against you. We never stepped foot on your yard. We were a people looking, hoping, and praying for leadership and empathy from our mayor. Instead, you put your phone on mute and ran away.

Mr. Mayor, I hope you understand your privilege. The privilege of walking away from the injustices that plague our community. The privilege of leaving your home safely when you felt uncomfortable. The privilege of having a home to return to. The people of Greenwood surely wished they had that privilege in 1921. They surely wished the Tulsa Police protected their homes with yellow tape during the massacre. Furthermore, due to true intimidation, their story was hidden from the history books, not talked about on the White-owned news outlets, and Blacks who dared speak up about it were actually intimidated, or, worse, killed.

With all due respect, if you think yesterday was an act of attempted intimidation, I implore you to read more about the history of this country and the City of Tulsa. Maybe then you will understand what real attempts at intimidation look like and what is a peaceful, constitutionally protected assembly of the people.

I respect the office of the mayor, and, by proxy, I respect you. I respect that you have a family – as I do. I personally would have never let any harm come to you, your loved ones or your home. For you to suggest that we sought to harm you shows that you really have very little faith in your citizens. We need your leadership. We came seeking just that and you ran from us. That was truly hurtful for those of us who believed in you. Your post on social media is no way to talk to your constituents while our fresh wounds bleed. It had a “we do not negotiate with terrorists” feel when all we sought was empathy and action. Mr. Mayor, we are not Al Qaeda, ISIL nor Kim Jung Un. We are taxpaying voting citizens of the city you were elected to lead.

What is wrong with us outlining four reasonable changes that our community desperately seeks? We are tired of meeting with you to discuss your agenda that has clearly not been effective in alleviating the systemic burden we face. Your response treated us like we are terrorists, but we are an organized, peaceful people in pain.

Tulsa thought we had a leader in you. Instead, you have shown yourself to be just another White man in power who characterizes the peaceful actions of African Americans as intimidating. That is how our people die while jogging. That is how our people die while eating ice cream on their couch. That is how our people die while sleeping in their own bed. Being Black is not a crime. The color of our skin should not be equated with aggression, anger, or intimidation. Shame on you, Mayor Bynum.

Yesterday was a beautiful display of democracy at work. I’m ashamed that our mayor tried to use it as a political campaign opportunity.

I will close with a chant I led yesterday; “Mr. Mayor, where you at? Leadership is what we need. Action is what we want!” Your citizens are waiting for their mayor to provide bold courageous leadership that produces real results and not more campaign speeches! Truly praying for you and yours."

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