Protestors paint BLM after City of Tulsa removes street sign
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Demonstrators in Tulsa painted Black Lives Matter in front of City Hall to protest a decision by city officials to remove a BLM street sign from the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
The rally started Saturday morning at a landmark pedestrian bridge in downtown Tulsa, where about 50 demonstrators gathered as several speakers described the city’s decision to remove the 250-foot-long (76.20 meters) sign as an act of “white supremacy.”
“Systemic racism is real,” said Alicia Andrews, chairwoman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. “It’s part of everything we do.”
She added that taking down the Black Lives Mural from the Greenwood district once called Tulsa’s “Negro Wall Street” was “absolutely a mirror of what’s going on in Oklahoma, the Tulsa World reported.
The sign was painted days before President Donald Trump’s rally in June and weeks after George Floyd’s death in May when a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the neck of the handcuffed Black man for several minutes.
The race riot in 1921 decimated Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, an economic and cultural mecca for African American people, which was located in the Greenwood neighborhood. The violence left 300 dead, 800 wounded and more than 8,000 homeless.
Crews removed the mural last week after city councilors determined it could not keep it without facing legal challenges and encouraging more people to paint city streets.
“I don’t believe in violence,” said Nehemiah Frank, one of the rally’s organizers and the executive editor of The Black Wall Street Times. “But I do believe in civil disobedience.”
He ultimately led the demonstrators toward City Hall where they were quietly trailed by another unrelated group of about a dozen armed citizens, carrying rifles and wearing bullet-proof vests with masks covering their faces.
During the protest, officers arrested at least two men who refused to get out of the street.