Group protests Good Friday suspects' bonds
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
12/28/12 at 8:59 AM
A protest outside the Tulsa County Courthouse became briefly tense Wednesday morning when a group protesting the bond set for the two men accused in Friday’s shootings was encountered by a couple calling for more attention to other crimes.
A group of about 20 people said they wanted Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 33, to be held without bond. The two were arrested in connection with a string of shootings that left three people dead and two injured early Friday.
Bail for each man was set Monday at $9.16 million on three complaints of first-degree murder, two complaints of shooting with intent to kill and one complaint of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
They have not been charged with any crimes.
The protest became briefly tense when a couple with their two small children approached the group wearing shirts and carrying signs that read “Don’t tread on me.” In a brief shouting match that was calmly separated by Tulsa County sheriff’s deputies, the counter-protesters claimed that incidents of black-on-white crime don’t get the same attention that other crimes do.
The counter-protesters specifically mentioned the case of elderly Tulsans Bob and Nancy Strait, who were attacked in their home March 14. Nancy Strait died from the attack.
The counter-protesters claimed that the attack on the Straits was a hate crime. They left after about 15 minutes.
So far, no hate crime charges have been pursued in any of the shootings or assaults.
Some of the initial protesters held signs that stated: “No life for victims, no bonds for suspects,” and “If I kill 3, please, no bond 4 me.”
“The community doesn’t want to worry about a possible release,” said Randall Lopez, who started an online petition to get the two suspects to be held without bond.
Lopez said some people see the bond as unfair compared to the situations of other black men who have been charged with murder who are being held without bond.
First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond said that at this point, the DA’s Office supports the bond set by the judge and believes it is sufficient to keep the men in jail until prosecutors have time to review the documents and file charges.
“Bond is not a punishment,” Drummond said. “It’s only supposed to assure their appearance at trial.”
England and Watts are due for their next appearance in the Tulsa County Courthouse on Monday.
From left, Randall Lopez, Kemo Perkins, Nina Mays and Demetrice Hardrick protest the jail bonds set for two shooting suspects at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Wednesday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World