Tulsa Police Officer Hopes To 'Eracism' With His Community Photos
TULSA, Oklahoma - The uproar stemming from the fraternity events at the University of Oklahoma, coupled with the ongoing divide in places like Ferguson, have kept the issue of race in the forefront of people's minds.
But we met a Tulsa police officer who is taking small steps in hopes to spark a big change. Officer Mike Miller is practicing “eracism,” which is a mash up of the words erase and racism.
While the idea of completely erasing racism isn't a reality, he hopes a few camera snaps could help move society in that direction.
So Miller is switching things up a bit. In addition to patrolling the streets for crime, he's also looking for people who will take a picture with him.
"They all said yes,” he said. “I didn't have one person tell me no."
The people he picks for pictures don't necessarily look like him, and that's his goal, to break down the racial divide and stop hate.
“They don't' see [police] on their best day, so I thought if they see me or another first responder in a different light, maybe we can end some of this hate."
The idea came as a result of the continuing racial conflict seen across the country.
“Stop separating ourselves and maybe stick your hand out instead of a fist," he said.
Hannibal Johnson is an author, attorney and consultant who often works closely with the black community
“This is great,” he said. “Police-community relationships, not just in Tulsa but all over the country, are founded on trust, and trust comes from building relationships. And in order to build relationships, someone has to take the first step."
He said Miller's step, no matter how small, means a lot. The point is just to show a kind of openness and desire to build something through unity.
“It's building that sense of community and shared space, which is essential if we are ever going to figure this thing out," Johnson said.
Miller said the picture-taking plan has already impacted the way he works.
“Just yesterday there was a very agitated individual, and I noticed my tone of voice, the way I talked to him, changed and he calmed down,” Miller said.
Even if a picture isn't worth a lot, Miller says changing one person would be worth it.
Miller is issuing a challenge to his fellow first responders to get out there and take pictures and maybe set off a movement to start seeing human beings instead of race.
He hopes everyone will get involved, too.