Mural Debate Fed By Lies And Control
In what started as a public rebuke of the visit of President Donald J. Trump to Tulsa on Juneteenth has turned into an ill-informed and racially insensitive assault on the wishes of the Greenwood district and their advocates. Pretty amazing what a can of yellow paint can do to a city still reckoning with its racist past. Black Lives Matter movement supporters painted Black Lives Matter on Greenwood in a move that specifically does not violate any city law. The city in an effort to erase the signage from the street to satisfy “they” as Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum describes those oppose to the mural. They have tried to remove the powerful mural they probably haven’t even visited. “They” should leave it alone.
In today’s era of instant social media posts, the city literally lied about the intentions of the Greenwood Chamber and its representatives. Hard to say what they could have been thinking when they clearly misrepresented the words and desires of the Greenwood district.
As described in the front page of The Oklahoma Eagle the city has confused the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black Lives Matter organization. They are not the same and assigning all the controversial history of the organization to the movement is an act of ignorance and shows a lack of insight into the times. The thousands of Oklahomans who have marched in the streets since the death of George Floyd are not card-carrying members of the Black Lives Matter organization and probably are not interested in their history or mission. They are against police violence and they represent all races of Oklahomans who have joined the rest of the nation in opposing police violence against black lives.
The city once again has slid an unwanted agreement to Greenwood and told to them shut up and sign a license that the city can revoke at will. Who would not jump at that chance to see the sign removed for any reason? The city previously wanted the Greenwood Chamber to sign an agreement to be responsible for the street including maintenance. They wisely refused the ridiculous offer.
What is equally ridiculous is that most cities are choosing to do nothing about their Black Lives Matter signage. They recognize the historical nature of the sign and understand it is important to the citizens. They are not quick to assume the worst and believe lies spread by Trump and right-wing pundits.
City legal advisors have wrung their hands and said if this sign was allowed to stay, they would have to allow anyone with an opinion to paint up their street. Some of the more conservative members of the power structure are eager to wash away any mention of BLM. Trump started spreading outrageous comments about the movement Wednesday morning and city hall was whispering it into the ears of decision-makers.
Given BLM, the organization’s history with law enforcement, police supporters have suggested a Back the Blue signage in retaliation to the Greenwood signage. Let them, put it in front of the FOP. Of course, there is no global movement supporting that and police have often met anti-police brutality protestors with violence. In California, activist Shaun King said in a Medium post in June that members of a law enforcement group on Facebook were plotting to kill him. Now, the Long Beach Police Department in California have launched a probe, saying that among the former officers identified by King were several from Long Beach. King is an out-spoken supporter of the BLM movement.
Tulsa City Counselors Vanessa Hall-Harper and Kara Joy McKee have suggested a way to avoid further conflict over the sign. They suggest having the Historic Greenwood District Main Street Program apply for a right-of-way for that part of Greenwood as it intersects with Archer. The occupancy permit calls for the city to maintain the sign at the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Greenwood advocates call the area “sacred ground” and are eager to protect its integrity and the new sign.
The city understands bureaucracy and power, and both have been on cruel display the past few weeks. Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has marshalled the might of city hall to push for the elimination of the sign he says “they” want. Whoever “they” are they are trying to undo the winds of change in seeking better and humane policing towards African Americans.
Does the city truly have to do anything? Most cities are inclined to let the passionate calls for change express themselves in a way that does not hurt anything. BLM is not anti-police; it is anti-brutality. By comparison, Tulsa did not experience the violence other metropolitan cities did during peaceful protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in May of this year.
In New York City, the government led by Mayor Bill DeBlasio painted BLM murals in front of Trump tower and in front of Queens government buildings. He was assisted by city counselors in painting the street. Sadly, we are not like them. Perhaps all can agree to remove the sign once Black Lives Matter.
Osage County Lawmaker Threatens Thunder’s Support For Racial Justice
Sports has taken the lead in pushing for equality in society and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Prior to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s return to regular season play against the Utah Jazz, all the players knelt during the national anthem in support of racial justice. Players wore BLM shirts and some players replaced their names with Black Lives Matter and other slogans demonstrating their support. The NBA supports their decisions.
Not everyone was supportive of racial justice and the Thunder’s demonstration backing of the cause. State Representative Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) threatened the Thunder’s tax benefits for kneeling. That is not going to happen of course and he alone couldn’t do that.
The Thunder will already have a new home in Kansas City if Roberts was able to convince enough lawmakers to join him in his crazy plan. Some suggest Roberts is seeking a high-ranking Republican seat and hopes the stunt will propel him to victory. The great gonzo journalist once opined “when going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”