Defunding Will not Work, Defanging Police Will

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s grisly death at the hands of Minneapolis, MN police, there was a call to defund the police. That the problems within departments were so prevalent that only their deconstruction would solve the problem. Calmer heads point to reform as the best remedy. Even that proposal is opposed by some police unions and pro-law enforcement types. Tulsa is not immune to criticism for the actions of their police force. Recent reports show a racially underrepresented force that does not mirror the community. It seems such disparities can be a breeding ground for racist attitudes.

People of color are underrepresented at law enforcement offices in Tulsa. The same is true of police departments in the surrounding area. In a well-oiled society this would be merely unfair. In turbulent times it is a recipe for racial intolerance with the rank and file police forces. Tulsa has historically wrestled with disparities within their ranks for decades and today they have a black police chief. While some do not consider him a progressive leader, there is hope he can be a voice for change.

Why would some believe defunding police would be proper or preferred? For what seem like logical reasons, someone must enforce the law and society does not need a free-for-all. On the other hand, the current set up cannot stand any longer. So, what is in between those two competing ideas?

Reform of police tactics are the first place to start but will do little if we do not control who is wearing the badge. Why are there so many police officers who are quick to commit acts of violence or ignore basic rights? In part we as a society want someone who will stand between us and criminals. However, an impulsive officer living with the stress that goes with the job cannot always be realistically expected to be calm and professional. That requires better training and expectations. What about other problems in the current ranks, like hiring people who come in with extreme racial attitudes?

Simply put, it is the plan of some within the white supremacist groups to get their people employed within police departments. A report by the Center for Investigative Reporting says that hundreds of active and retired law enforcement officers across the country were involved in extremist groups. Many of them were active on dozens of private hate groups on Facebook. Bob Kroll, the fiery leader of the Minneapolis police union is a member of City Heat motorcycle club that is known as a white supremacist group. Kroll is routinely attacking black officials like current Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison who he publicly called a “terrorist.”

Police have done themselves no favors by brutalizing peaceful protestors the last couple of months. There are problems within police departments. Hiring more cops of color is good but solves little.

City Finds Itself On The Wrong Side Of History Pursuing BLM Painters

A word of advice to Mayor G.T. Bynum and the rest of city government. Suppression and repression of a powerful movement only ensures its growth. You can’t scrape every street or shut every mouth with bullying tactics. You can’t stop protesting police brutality by using police brutality or pretending you have stopped a movement by scraping a powerful message off the most famous street in Tulsa. You are going to have to change and that begins with talking. That will have to include admitting the system is flawed and needs fixing.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler will not pursue state charges against the painters. He has better things to do, like pursue real crimes.

Yes, you can pursue painters of Black Lives Matter on a city street, or you can station a cop to watch Greenwood night and day to make sure no one has the nerve to paint BLM on city property. Or you can find a way to address why BLM is painted on city streets in the first place. One way is a lot more effective and cheaper.

Mass Grave Search Uncovers Possible Find

The search for mass graves connected to the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 may have found some results at Oaklawn Cemetery this week. Nothing has been confirmed but the results are promising. It is also healing and could be a major step in solving a major Tulsa mystery.

It is almost impossible to comprehend, but many were murdered during the race massacre, their bodies collected and buried without a funeral or effort to identify them. The relatives and survivors were unable to assist because they were kept in what amounted to internment camps who were only guilty of living in the Greenwood district.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has earnestly tried to find the remains of those killed during the race massacre often called the worst in United States history. The 100-year anniversary is fast approaching, and it would be an act of justice to find those long hidden in ignoble graves.

The ancestors of Greenwood stand at the fence surrounding the dig site as silent witness to the effort to find their elders. They sit, kneel, and stand in prayer or remembrance for those long forgotten by a city that tried to act like they never existed.

Tulsa is a city at the crossroads of change and reform. In some ways old ways die hard and in others there are sincere attempts to do the right thing. There are miles to go before Tulsa rests as a collective community. The guns have gone silent but their violence is still felt today nearly a century later. Tulsa needs to ask itself are they trying hard enough to heal the wounds opened so many years ago? Let’s hope the progress and good intentions turn into solutions for a better Tulsa.