The Rev. Jesse Jackson: Both Jackson and the Black Caucus members expressed dismay that Tulsa officials have not yet labeled the Tulsa shootings a hate crime. Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris said it would be inappropriate for him to label the shootings a hate crime based on media reports. Harris said he's waiting on evidence from Tulsa police.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson will be in town this weekend arguing that the federal government needs to get involved in Tulsa's Good Friday shooting spree that left three people dead.
Jackson will meet with north Tulsa ministers and elected officials at noon Friday at First Baptist Church North Tulsa, and will hold a public rally at the church at 6 p.m. Saturday.
He was invited to Tulsa by the State Legislative Black Caucus and local ministers.
Jackson said in a conference phone call Wednesday afternoon that the Tulsa shootings were not an isolated crime, but part of a pattern of attacks on blacks across the nation that the federal government needs to investigate.
"This year there have been 29 black men and one black woman killed by police," he said.
He listed several recent cases of violence against blacks, including the Trayvon Martin case, in which the black Forida teen was shot and killed in a gated community by a neighborhood watch member who is of Hispanic and white heritage.
"There are a number of unsolved murders of black people" in Oklahoma, he said.
"There is a pattern of attacks on blacks here, and that's why we're urging the Department of Justice and the FBI to intervene. It's not unlike the old South, where local officials spent an awful lot of time covering their tracks.
"What we really want is security and justice," he said.
"Frankly, I cannot separate these acts from the mean-spirited attacks on the president himself," he said. "He's called stupid, not a member of our religion, ... There's a toxic environment that's raining down."
Jackson praised Tulsa authorities and police for moving quickly and apprehending two men early Sunday in the Tulsa shootings, but said it was just a first step, "given the pattern of violent behavior against black people."
He said his Rainbow PUSH Coalition is working to change laws on concealed weapons and assault rifles and "stand your ground" laws, which he called an incentive to vigilantism.
State Sen. Constance N. Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, chairwoman of the Black Caucus who was also on the conference call, commended local law enforcement, but said federal involvement was necessary to make sure justice is served in Tulsa courts.
"This is a powder keg waiting to explode," she said. "We want to assure the community that we're taking every step possible to make sure this will be a fair and just process. And we feel the Department of Justice will bring that objectivity to the state."
Both Jackson and the Black Caucus members expressed dismay that Tulsa officials have not yet labeled the Tulsa shootings a hate crime.
"If someone intentionally goes looking for black people for revenge, shoots five and kills three, that's evidence of a hate crime and intentionality. ... That's fairly clear-cut," Jackson said.
"If the shoe had been on the other foot," he said, if it had been white victims of blacks, it would have been immediately labeled a hate crime.
Johnson said she was "astonished at the delay to label it a hate crime."
"We're going to review the hate crimes statute to see what is causing the Tulsa DA to not label this a hate crime," she said.
Contacted at his office Wednesday, Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris said it would be inappropriate for him to label the shootings a hate crime based on media reports.
"I will only make a decision based on sufficient investigation, and so far I've received nothing from the Tulsa Police Department," he said. "We're told that it's forthcoming."
"If the evidence supports a hate crime, I'll file a hate crime," he said.
Gwendolyn Fields, with the Advocacy Council in Oklahoma City, said the hate crime designation expresses the social values of a society, and if this is not prosecuted as a hate crime, it will show "disregard for the larger civil rights picture."
State Rep. Seneca Scott, who represents District 72, where the shootings occurred, said he will be looking at the hate crimes statute, and "what it takes to have a very clear protocol of when crimes are hate crimes. Now there is a degree of ambiguity," he said.
"The naming of it as a hate crime is pretty clear," he said. "If not this one, then what would be?"
Jackson is not the only high profile civil rights leader coming to Tulsa in the aftermath of the shootings.
The Rev. Al Sharpton will speak at a public meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday at Greater Union Baptist Church, 955 E. 36th St. North, along with the national president of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous, said Greater Union Pastor Bob Kendrick, Sr.
Jackson and Sharpton public events
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Rev. Al Sharpton
- Rally for Hope and Healing
- 6 p.m. Saturday
- First Baptist Church North Tulsa
- 1414 N. Greenwood Ave.
- Public meeting
- 3 p.m. Sunday
- Greater Union Baptist Church
- 955 E. 36th St. North.
- (Appearing with the national NAACP president Benjamin Jealous.)
Check back at tulsaworld.com for more updates. Find complete coverage at tulsaworld.com/shootings.
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Original Print Headline: Jackson and Sharpton public events
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