Hundreds of people gathered in Brookside Saturday to protest racial inequality after watching the events unfold this week in Minneapolis where George Floyd died while in police custody.
After seeing Floyd’s arrest video, protestors said Saturday they couldn’t keep quiet.
The rally began at the intersection of Peoria St. and 34th Street in Brookside where they could be seen lying, sitting, and standing, demanding for an end to police brutality and racial injustice.
Protestor William Blakely said he has been watching things like this on TV and in his community for too long.
“We are trying to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself,” Blakely said. “The police have been doing this for too many years.”
The crowd didn’t stay at the intersection for long. After local leaders spoke a few words, the group began walking down Peoria towards Interstate 44. They stopped at several intersections to lie down and speak again to make sure that anyone watching from the sidelines knew their message. They were shouting phrases such as “I can’t breathe” and “Do good, serve justice.”
“I see the way our communities were broken by white supremacy,” protestor Ana Varros said. “I see the beauty of our communities being overshadowed by the burden of this.”
Once the hundreds reached the intersection of Peoria and I-44, they ran up the exit ramp onto the highway itself. Dozens of cars were speeding by at the time. As more people crowded the road, most of the cars stopped except for one that struck a person, knocking them to the ground.
The protestors took their spot on the highway, still chanting while sitting and lying on the ground. Some of those protestors said they decided to sit on the highway because that would grab the attention of a bigger crowd to amplify their message of ending police brutality.
After about an hour, protestors left the highway to head to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum’s home to see if they could speak to him. Bynum had not given a statement or made an appearance to the crowds until later in the evening after the protestors headed in the direction of his home.
“We are asking him to look and act, not talk,” protestor Duke Durant said. “We don’t want to just talk anymore. Cash in that check that got our bodies on it. Cash in that check that got out labor on it. Cash in that check that got our blood on it.”
Mayor Bynum released a statement on Facebook later Saturday evening.
The Facebook post said, in part, “We believe addressing racial disparity in Tulsa must occur across a range of areas: economic development, transportation, health, public safety, and others.”
There is an official “Black Lives Matter” rally scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday at the Greenwood Cultural Center. Many of the people at Saturday’s events said they are planning on attending that peaceful protest as well. The organizers of the event are calling for solidarity and encouraging people to wear a mask while they are protesting.