By Kimberly Jackson
There is unrest in the historic Greenwood district after a long-time tenant was evicted. Community members joined Tori Tyson, owner of The Blowout Studio for a protest. But soon after the protest began, Rev. Kenneth Evans began a shouting match with Tyson and her supporters.
“Y’all nig**as kill me. And I called ‘em nig**as,” he shouted. Evans used the N-word a total of three times, as he yelled and went back and forth with the crowd.
Freeman Culver of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce told News Channel 8 that Evans is not a board member but a community friend.
Tyson was evicted for refusing to pay the increased rent to the Greenwood Chamber, after learning other tenants paid less. She continued to pay her previously set amount for months, before being called to court for eviction.
‘Greenwood didn’t do anything. She evicted herself, just like the judge told her. You evicted yourself. You didn’t pay the rent. The judge told her that,” said Evans, who yelled in the street until Tulsa Police pulled up, forcing everyone out of the roadway.
For many, it is about more than just rent. The historic district is approaching the 1921 Race Massacre 100th Anniversary, remembering when the black business district was burned to the ground.
“We care about maintaining the history and the spirit of Greenwood and continuing to harass and kick more black businesses out, is not the way to do that,” explained City Councilor Vanessa Hall Harper.
The Greenwood Center Management issued this statement:
“Initially Ms.Tori Tyson could not afford the lease but we negotiated lease terms and reduced it by 35 percent. But today the Greenwood chamber of commerce is sorry to announce that Ms. Tyson’s last day as a merchant tenant on 109 Greenwood Avenue is January 10, 2021, at 5 p.m. This occurred because Ms. Tyson has not paid her full amount of rent for space 109 since January 2020. Ms. Tyson was officially 3 months late in March which starts the eviction process. But because we were in a pandemic and because we care the chamber did not evict her and we reduced her rent by 10.5 percent. As of December 2020, Ms. Tyson was more than 11 months behind on rent and we can no longer go month to month without full rent payments. The judge made her decision. And we wish her the best.
Tyson says she is not ready to leave the district, where her family first started the business about 40 years ago. Her last day is scheduled to be January 10th.