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Protesters Hope To Establish African American Affairs Commission

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

It's their fourth protest in a year, asking once again for the same thing.

"We are here for a solidarity protest,” stated Protest Organizer Vanessa Hall-Harper.

Hall-Harper, who's running for City Council's District 1 seat, wants the City of Tulsa to establish an African American Affairs Commission.

She says the commission would serve as a mouthpiece for Tulsa's black population.

"If there are issues that arise in the community, they serve as a voice, an open line of communication with our local government,” she explained.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett proposed an ordinance to create the commission last month, telling city councilors, quote, "No one doubts that a Greater Tulsa Area African Affairs Commission would add a unique perspective to this collaboration.” 

However, the recent fiscal and operational challenges facing the City of Tulsa require a serious evaluation.

Bartlett also proposes forming a committee to look into the current commissions to find out whether "consolidating certain boards into an Intercultural Affairs Committee," in other words combining the commissions, would be more efficient and cost effective.

Councilor Jack Henderson, Hall-Harper's political opponent, says it's important to consider the city's budget.

He says consolidating would promote unity, whereas separate commissions would promote division.

Hall-Harper disagrees, saying different groups have different needs.

"Combining them would prove to be ineffective for everyone involved,” she stated.

The mayor's office says a committee is looking into Tulsa's human rights commissions.

There has been no word on when they'll finish their evaluation.

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