Tulsans Address Racial Differences On Teen Arrests At City Council

Wednesday, June 19th 2019, 10:36 pm

The Tulsa City Council opened the floor for people to share their thoughts on the number of arrests of black and white teenagers on June 19.

The stories people shared are a response to the second annual Equality Indicators Report, which says black people are arrested more often than whites.

The city council has been meeting for the last several months on the topic.

June 19 marked the first time Tulsans could provide their thoughts publicly to the council.

12 Tulsans came to the podium to share their personal stories when it comes to children under 18 being arrested in Tulsa and each could speak for three minutes.

When it comes to children, the report says relative to their demographic, black children were arrested about three times as often as white children during 2018, and so far this year.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan was noticeably absent from the meeting.

"It's disappointing not to have Chief Jordan here this evening,” Teacher Rebeckah Campbell McIlwain said while addressing the council.

Retired TPD homicide Sergeant Dave Walker gave his input.

Walker said the numbers should be alarming for everyone and would like for the community to take a closer look at what kind of arrests being made.

"I have sat across a table from juveniles that have killed people, that have raped people, that have robbed people. Those I don't think we're talking about. Those juveniles need to be arrested,” Walker said.

He said taking a closer look at what kind of arrests are making up the statistics in the report will be key moving forward in future discussions.

“What type of arrest happened? Are they code citations for juveniles? Curfew violations for not being at school? That sort of thing. That counts as an arrest,” Walker said.

Educators like McIlwain also spoke up, sharing the reality for some of her students at McLain High School.

“He also wrote in that composition notebook about spending his birthday in jail the year prior as the hardest day of his life,” McIlwain said.

The council will use the public's input to shape their questions for a panel next week.

"I would hope that folks come out for these meetings. We all have things that we can learn from this process,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said.

We reached out to TPD about why Chief Jordan wasn't at the meeting and have not heard back.

If you missed the meeting and want to give your thoughts, there will be another meeting Saturday at the Rudisill Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Councilors say it will be an open, casual conversation.

To see the full Equality Indicators Report click here. The statistics at the center of Wednesday’s discussion at the meeting can be found on page 31. The numbers for juveniles can be found at “Indicator 28.”

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