Religious leaders from Tulsa’s churches and temples gathered at a midtown church Wednesday to issue a proclamation: Black lives matter.
More than a half-dozen leaders at the houses of worship gathered at noon outside All Souls Unitarian Church, located at 29th Street and Peoria Avenue, in front of a mural that spelled out that proclamation in large yellow block letters.
The statement and murals come on the heels of Tulsa city officials deciding to remove the Black Lives Matter mural on Greenwood Avenue in the coming months as part of a scheduled street repaving project.
Local activists painted Tulsa’s BLM sign on the street without the city’s permission on the eve of Juneteenth, the day before President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at the BOK Center.
“We admit in this moment that this symbolic public art mural is not the systemic change that is so desperately needed, but we also see a need, the need, right now to hold up this phrase, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and to reclaim it for our lives, for all our lives, here in Tulsa,” said Rabbi Dan Kaiman of Congregation B’Nai Emunah. “We do not view this phrase, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ as political speech but as a declaration of something that should be obvious but is not.
“When we say Black lives matter, we are not saying that other lives don’t or asserting some agenda other than to make the most basic claims about something that has not been historically true in our city or nation.”
Eight leaders of worship houses around Tulsa stood up to speak Wednesday: Fellowship Congregational Church; All Souls Unitarian Church; Trinity Episcopal Church; St. Paul’s United Methodist Church; Centenary United Methodist Church; College Hill Presbyterian; the Synagogue, and the Morning Star Baptist Church were represented, where one of the murals were unveiled.
The Rev. Chris Moore of Fellowship Congregational said four murals have already been painted since Monday. Murals have been painted at Fellowship Congregational Church, All Souls, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and College Hill Presbyterian.
Additional murals will be painted at other houses of worship over time, he said.
Local clergy announced the plan on the fourth anniversary of Terence Crutcher’s death. Moore said Crutcher’s death connects Tulsa to the “larger, awful story of violence against Black and brown bodies all across our nation.”
Moore challenged “people who have been historically known as white” to reflect on the historical and systemic ways that Black lives did not matter and to work to change that. He described that as an act of faith directed by a God “having created each of us in God’s own image and commands us to love one another as God loves us.”
“It is that faith that calls us to seek higher ground than we have sought thus far, to stop limiting ourselves to the weak constraints of right versus left and begin to talk instead about right and wrong,” he said.
“If we do not, in a world that is placing increasing demands on our interconnectedness, we will remain trapped by our past unable to move forward together to truth and reconciliation, to accountability and understanding, to a place where we could say with authenticity that ‘all lives matter.’”
Featured video: Al Sharpton in Tulsa in 2017: ‘I come to pray, I come to rally and I come to mend broken hearts’
Gallery: Shooting of Terrence Crutcher: The Tulsa World archive
Sept. 16, 2016: Tulsa police officer fatally shoots Terence Crutcher
Sept. 18, 2016: Police release names of officers involved in shooting
Sept. 19, 2016: Police release video of shooting
The Crutcher family demands immediate charges against Shelby. During an afternoon news conference, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said officers found no gun on Crutcher or in his SUV.
Sept. 20, 2016: Police say PCP in vehicle used by Crutcher
Police announce that they found PCP in the vehicle used by Crutcher the night he was fatally shot.
Sept. 20, 2016: Attorneys for Crutcher family address shooting
Attorney Benjamin Crump says he wants to draw the public’s attention to the notion initially suggested by police that Crutcher was reaching into his vehicle when he was shot.
Attorneys show reporters poster-size images from police video footage, saying they show Crutcher’s hands raised above his head where he lies on the ground in a blood-soaked shirt next to his vehicle. They also point out what they believe is a blood streak on the vehicle’s driver’s side window, which they say indicates that it was closed when Crutcher was shot.
Sept. 22, 2016: First-degree manslaughter charge filed against Tulsa officer
Sept. 27, 2016: Rev. Al Sharpton, other civic leaders lead justice march
Sharpton, other religious leaders, members of the Crutcher family and several attorneys speak at a “National Prayer Call for Justice March” before leading the crowd from the Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave., to City Hall, 175 E. Second St.
The crowd spans about a block as people march behind a banner that features a photo of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher and reads “#Justice4Crutch” and “hands up, don’t shoot.”
Sept. 30, 2016: Tulsa officer Betty Shelby pleads not guilty
Shelby remained silent in the courtroom other than answering “yes” to acknowledge her presence.
Sept. 30, 2016: Mother of Terence Crutcher’s children removed as his estate administrator
Oct. 11, 2016: PCP found in Terence Crutcher’s system; family attorney calls it ‘immaterial’
Crutcher family attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons issued a statement saying that “today’s toxicology report does not change the most pertinent facts of this tragedy: Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher who was, unarmed and had his hands up, without provocation or justification and she should be held accountable for her unlawful actions.”
Oct. 25, 2016: GoFundMe ordered to be placed in Terence Crutcher’s estate
The judge also said he won’t announce his decision on whether Terence Crutcher and Frenchel Johnson, the mother of Crutcher’s three children, had a common-law marriage.
Nov. 29, 2016: Tulsa detective testifies about vehicle window
Nov. 29, 2016: Betty Shelby’s daughter decries media coverage
Dec. 5, 2016: No common-law marriage; GoFundMe money now in estate account
Glassco instead said Johnson and Crutcher’s three minor children are the heirs to the estate, as well as another child Crutcher had from a previous relationship.
The GoFundMe account received around $168,000 in contributions, which family attorneys said GoFundMe collected a percentage from before disbursing it.
Feb. 1, 2017: Trial date set for Tulsa officer Betty Shelby; defense motions overrruled
In making his ruling, Drummond said Special Judge Martha Rupp Carter did not abuse her discretion when she decided not to allow Shelby to call witnesses during her Nov. 29 preliminary hearing.
Shelby’s trial is set for May 8, and she remains on Tulsa Police administrative leave without pay as of Sept. 22.
March 23, 2017: Tulsa officer Betty Shelby denied request for another preliminary hearing
Shelby remains on track for a May 8 jury trial.
March 29, 2017: Defense moves to toss ‘bad dude’ comment
Attorney Shannon McMurray has also requested that jurors be allowed to hear information about Crutcher’s past, including a history of drug use and state incarceration.
April 2, 2017: Tulsa officer Betty Shelby appears on ’60 Minutes’
As a result, the judge presiding over Shelby’s trial admonishes her in a written order after he had cautioned the state and defense on speaking publicly about the case.
April 12, 2017: Special treatment at the courthouse?
“All this from a Sheriff’s Office that promised transparency.
“There also is black paper on the windows of the judges’ chambers and the courtroom. They are the only windows blacked out on the fourth floor. “
April 24, 2017: National nonprofit raising money for Officer Betty Shelby’s ‘cost of living’
Jim Fotis, president of the National Center for Police Defense, told the Tulsa World his group has raised nearly $100,000 for Shelby since becoming involved in her case about a month after she fatally shot Terence Crutcher in September.
May 2, 2017: Tulsa police union files ethics complaint against DA
The ethics complaint, filed with the Oklahoma Bar Association, alleges Kunzweiler didn’t have probable cause to charge Shelby “merely based on watching a video” of her fatal encounter with Terence Crutcher.
May 8, 2017: Jury selected for Tulsa officer Betty Shelby trial
The jury panel of 12 includes two black women, and a black man is among the two alternates.
May 10, 2017: Rev. Al Sharpton returns to Tulsa for ‘Call for Justice’ rally
“We didn’t come to start trouble; we came to stop trouble.”
He said the shooting of a man with his hands up has been the “only violence committed in this entire ordeal.”
“Not one window was broken. Not one brick was thrown.”
May 15, 2017: Defense rests after unsuccessful motion for mistrial
May 18, 2017: Jury ‘could never get comfortable with the concept of Betty Shelby being blameless’
The jury deliberated for just more than nine hours before reaching its decision. Several jurors were in tears as the judge read the not-guilty verdicts for the two theories of manslaughter — heat of passion and resisting criminal attempt — for which Shelby was charged.
May 20, 2017: Demonstrators at Mayfest host ‘die in’
Organizer Tykebrean McClain said the demonstration’s other aim was to show people what it is like to be bombarded with images and videos on social media of the people, mainly of color, killed by police.
May 23, 2017; Tulsa officer Betty Shelby gets back pay; moves to administrative duty
City spokeswoman Michelle Brooks said Shelby will receive back pay for the whole time she was on unpaid administrative leave, or almost $36,000 worth of salary.
July 14, 2017: Betty Shelby resigns from Tulsa Police
Aug. 10, 2017: Betty Shelby joins Rogers County Sheriff’s Office
Aug. 21, 2017: Betty Shelby seeks to expunge Terence Crutcher manslaughter case records
“(Shelby)’s privacy interests outweigh the interests of the public in maintaining this arrest record as a public document,” the petition contends.
September 2017: Terence Crutcher’s parents talk about grandchildren, coping with son’s death one year later
“They’ve always been part of our daily lives. But since their dad is gone, they’re really part of it now,” said Joey Crutcher. “Their mother is trying to get her life together. We’re the ones left to take care of them, and we love doing it. It makes us young again. Young Terence makes it so we have to run after him.”
Oct. 25, 2017: Betty Shelby’s request to expunge record granted
However, a federal wrongful death civil case is ongoing.
Dec. 28, 2017: Terence Crutcher Foundation forms encourage people to report negative police interactions
“The Tulsa Police Department has a culture, a practice and a pattern of racially profiling people in our community, discriminating against the people in our community, and we can no longer say it’s just a few bad apples,” she said.
March 30, 2018: Tiffany Crutcher talks about implicit-bias training for Tulsa police
April 4, 2018: Crutcher family files second wrongful death lawsuit against city
However, Oklahoma’s civil procedure statute on wrongful death claims indicates a family can file suit to recover damages for grief and loss of companionship for the children and parents of a decedent.
The lawsuit against the city was dismissed in May.
May 2018: Betty Shelby talks about joining Rogers County
Because of Shelby’s time in the spotlight, Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton discussed safety concerns with her before sending her to the streets. He said she expressed no hesitation about returning to patrol.
June 13, 2018: Terence Crutcher’s father addresses City Council
“On Sept. 16, 2016,” he continued. “I lost yet another son to police brutality, something that you could have controlled. My son Terence was killed because of a flawed system within the Tulsa Police Department.”
August 2018: First Terence Crutcher memorial scholarships awarded
The scholarships will be presented during the second annual Terence Crutcher Foundation Memorial Gala in September.
Aug. 27, 2018: Betty Shelby teaches course for officers on ‘surviving the aftermath of a critical incident’
Shelby will inform participants about “many of the legal, financial, physical, and emotional challenges” that may arise after an officer shoots someone, according to a course synopsis on a state government website.
Protesters also attended the event.
Nov. 11, 2018: Betty Shelby uninvited to law enforcement conference
Dec. 12, 2018: Community leaders challenge Tulsa Police hiring of Betty Shelby
March 1, 2019: Betty Shelby will not face charges for federal civil rights violation
March 14, 2019: Tiffany Crutcher addresses city council; mayor responds
“They are really good people who endured a horrible loss,” he said.
At the same time, Bynum said, he is troubled by the way Damario Solomon-Simmons has portrayed Tulsa’s police officers.
“Do I think their attorney jumps in front of the cameras every chance he gets to belittle the Tulsa Police Department and to belittle the hard work of so many people in our community who are trying to do work on community policing? Yeah, I do.”
March 21, 2019: Dismissal of a Terence Crutcher wrongful death lawsuit upheld
The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled that District Judge Mary Fitzgerald properly dismissed a lawsuit brought in 2018 by Crutcher’s estate because it violated a state ban on splitting claims in different courts.
April 2019: Betty Shelby to teach basic NRA pistol course with husband
May 14, 2019: Tiffany Crutcher takes policing reform campaign to Capitol Hill
September 2019: Tulsa Police improve aspect of its use-of-force policy since Terence Crutcher’s death
A researcher with Campaign ZERO, a national police reform advocacy group, says that language improved TPD’s policy, but overall it remains vague in specifying when deadly force is OK.
April 2020: Terrence Crutcher Foundation offers free meals to ‘health care heroes’
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