OKC mayor meets with community leaders over tape

Friday, July 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys met with black community leaders on Thursday to discuss the conduct of two police officers during the arrest of a black man earlier this month.

Following the 90-minute meeting at Humphreys' office, the mayor told reporters that the discussions helped him realize that black people's views of the July 8 arrest of Donald Pete differ from whites'.

A videotape of the arrest showing officers striking Pete repeatedly with night sticks brought an outcry from the black community.

Humphreys noted that civil rights leader Clara Luper, who attended Thursday's meeting, was beaten in Selma, Ala., in the 1960s during civil rights protests.

``Those of the Caucasian race need to realize that African-Americans are going to view things through a different filter,'' he said. ``Their families have gone through different things,'' he said.

Humphreys also apologized for appearing to have laughed during a television interview in which he viewed the videotape of Pete's arrest.

``I regret that perception. That was not the case. I regret that that interview served to escalate the tensions,'' he said.

He chided and thanked Luper, a former schoolteacher, for lecturing him over the interview.

Luper said Humphreys did not understand ``the depths of my anger.'' But the two seemed to have cleared up that misunderstanding.

The arrest demanded ``real leadership'' and after talking with him, ``the mayor did exactly what I asked him to do,'' Luper said.

She said he made promises regarding the incident ``and I have them down because I am not in the United States of Amnesia.''

Luper didn't specify what the promises and actions were.

Roosevelt Milton, local president of the NAACP, said topics discussed Thursday included possible disciplinary action for police involved, a proposed citizen's council to work with police and the community, and possible changes in police policies and procedures.

``It was a start,'' Milton said. ``I don't think it was the end-all. Certainly we have more work to do.''

He said leaders will be eager to see a police internal investigation report, which Humphreys said is expected next week.

A federal investigation will take months to complete, Humphreys said.