Proposed State Laws Fall Short Of Boston United Methodist Goals            

Evil reigns so long as good people do nothing. That truth has been used to confront darkness and encourage light to show us the way. So true today as we juxtaposed the racist plans of the Oklahoma legislature against the thoughtful and tolerant plans of Boston United Methodist Church’s to eradicate racism here in Tulsa. This is about a conscious choice to maintain intolerant views instead of reaching within yourself to be better and tolerant.

House Bill 2215 by Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow aims to add obstructing a business entrance or exit or a roadway to the definition of inciting a riot and incredibly, would exempt from criminal and civil prosecution motorists who unintentionally injure or kill someone while fleeing from a riot. This seems morally corrupt and unconstitutional on its face and we can’t waive murder for people exercising their right to assemble and free speech. This bill is just another attempt to tell people to shut up and minimize their lives. The bill’s author claims a rioter aka protester a creature whose life is not worth much.

Earlier this month, another lawmaker from Broken Arrow attempted to again to stop cities in Oklahoma from being sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities create safe havens from federal agents like ICE who are raiding neighborhoods looking for those who are fleeing danger in their own countries. Clearly, this is an anti-Mexican law that would also withhold state funds to cities who do not comply. This is just mean-hearted.

HB 2095 by Mark Lepak, R-Claremore proposes a law making those charged with unlawful assembly subject to racketeering charges. For exercising your right to assemble as promised in the constitution along with free speech, you could be charged with a felony punishable by up to five years in prison a d a $5000 fine.

Senate Bill 119, by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Poteau, would force an organization to make an application 10 days in advance for demonstrations on the state Capitol grounds and could make protesters liable for any damage. During the early Minnesota demonstrations ex cops were seen breaking windows and one wonders if President Trump’s supporters will be sent a bill for damage to the capitol? We know the answers to those questions. Republicans were the roadblock to education reform and raises and did not like the state capitol filled with angry teachers.

Sb 403 by Sen. Brenda Staley, R-Oklahoma City, would make it a misdemeanor to disrupt or interfere the affairs of local governments. I guess they prefer any opposition to government be made when government is closed.

These are proposed laws like SB 803 that would have made it illegal for teachers to say anything negative about the history of the United States like slavery, native American genocide, the theft of Texas from Mexico, child labor laws, Japanese internment during WWII. This bill will not proceed any further this session.

The House in a committee advanced a proposed law that would create an extra step in the prosecution of any law officer charged with homicide or manslaughter. HB 2505 authored by Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City authored the bill because of what he considered the unfair treatment of former TPD officer Betty Shelby who shot an unarmed Terrance Crutcher in the back and barely avoided a guilty verdict for his death. At a time when most states are questioning the wisdom of having qualified immunity in performance of their job. It has essentially allowed police officers to shoot civilians for the slightest provocation. Oklahoma is stepping back into the darkness.

Sounds like a grim picture. However, right here in Tulsa the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church has committed to a goal this year to do all that they can to improve race relations by word and deed. They have started a noble and ambitious set of efforts to inform and work to dismantle racism. Because tolerance is a system and racism is a system, it’s brilliant to see racism as something that can be changed.

The church has recognized Tulsa has problems and perhaps they do too as they reflect and engage the problems of racism in our city. Mindful that 2021 marks the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre it is proper to mark this year with efforts to remove the ugly stain of racism in our community.

Starting last Sunday, the church met and set out goals for the coming year. They brought in expert speakers on improving race relations. Church members are going to educate themselves by committing to reading 500 books on improving race relations. These are the first efforts to do something and are ready to try others as ideas emerge.

The local YWCA has made it a stated mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women” here and in other communities across the nation. Their goal is “YWCA Tulsa is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, freedom, dignity and justice for all. We focus on eliminating barriers for and investing in the success of women, girls, and people of color.”

As a community we must remain vigilant against those who want to silence us and supportive of those who want to create a better world today and tomorrow.

Legal Decisions On Wrongful Deaths By Police Show No Progress In Justice

A  State grand jury voted not to indict any officers in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after police pinned him to the ground in March, New York Attorney General Letitia James said this week. Sheneen McClain cried reading an independent report Monday that said Colorado police officers involved her son’s death did not have the legal basis to stop, frisk or restrain Elijah McClain.

“It was overwhelming knowing my son was innocent the entire time and just waiting on the facts and proof of it,” Sheneen McClain said. The police were not charged with any crime. And there are others.

It’s clear the injustice is not just a street cop problem, but has infected every aspect of the justice experience. It’s good news the Biden administration is set to roll out their police reforms named after George Floyd who died in police custody last year.