Tulsa Leaders Unite To Discuss Race Relations

Sunday, July 10th 2016, 7:30 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa community leaders and members are on a mission to come together. The fellowship hall at the First Baptist Church of North Tulsa was packed on Sunday afternoon.

The news conference there was one of many events organized over the past few days to address the recent killings of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas, and two black men by police officers -- one in Louisiana and one in Minnesota.

For about an hour and a half, city leaders and police representatives spoke to a packed room of people.

It wasn't a question-and-answer format, but each panel member took time to present ideas on ways to improve police and public relationships. They took turns laying out ideas that could one day repair strained police and public relations.

"I am confident that the leaders we have right now are willing to work hard to rectify this issue," said organizer Jonathan Townsend.

Prayer is where some say it starts.

"Collectively we are the parts that make this one nation under God," said Sheriff Vic Regalado, Tulsa County.

From there, others said both sides must first admit there is a problem.

"Black-on-black crime needs to stop just like police on citizen crime needs to stop," said Representative Kevin Matthew.

One idea suggested recruiting officers from communities where relationships are most strained.

Another suggested coordinating citywide efforts to teach people and police how to better engage with one other.

Although meetings like this have value, one community member we spoke with said too often the conversation ends when the meeting is over. 

Bobby Eaton is a Tulsa native. He's lived through the civil rights movement and much more. He said it's sad to see that some of the same issues relevant then are still relevant more than 50 years later.

"We have things like Martin Luther King parade, and once that's over Tuesday, it's like nothing has taken place,” community member Bobby Eaton said.

“We have to be more sincere about what we are doing or stop doing it at all. And then reap the unwanted benefits of doing nothing."