Black Lives Matter protests held in Shawnee, statewide
As protests have occurred around the nation, hundreds of people across Oklahoma gathered for multiple rallies throughout the state over the weekend to protest the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis and general police action against African Americans.
According to Tecumseh Police Chief J.R. Kidney, while there have been no protests in Tecumseh, dozens of demonstrators gathered with signs in Shawnee on Saturday, May 30, and stood along Harrison Street.
Shawnee Police Cpl. Vivian Lozano said Monday the protest was peaceful and the police didn't intervene in any way.
According to Shawnee Police Chief Mason Wilson, as long as protests remain peaceful, police will not get involved. However, Wilson said, if there is criminal activity, the department will act accordingly.
In addition to Shawnee, hundreds of people gathered in Oklahoma City Sunday at the intersection of N.E. 36th Street and Kelly Avenue for a Demand Justice rally hosted by the Oklahoma City chapter of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization.
Several speakers addressed the crowd at the rally and many people held up signs and shouted chants including, "Black Lives Matter," "No justice, no peace," and "I can't breathe."
Following the BLM rally, people began marching down Kelly Avenue before ending at the State Capital at a different rally.
T. Sheri Dickerson, the leader of the Oklahoma City chapter of BLM, said in a Facebook Live video posted on the organization's page Sunday, that BLM doesn't encourage and didn't participate in the rioting that began Sunday night in Oklahoma City after the rally ended.
In fact, Dickerson said in the video that she and other BLM leaders were going to Downtown Oklahoma City Sunday night in an attempt to de-escalate the rioting and encourage community members to disperse peacefully for their own safety and the safety of others.
In a live video she released Monday morning, Dickerson explained she understands the anger people must be feeling, but vandalism and destruction reflected poorly on BLM's message and the overall cause and were not the answer to making positive change happen.
"We know that there are also outside agitators that come and do these types of things but we have to show them that this ain't us," Dickerson said.
In the video, Dickerson encouraged community leaders and members to join her in cleaning up any vandalism and property damage that occurred on the front steps of the State Capitol and at various businesses in and around northeast and downtown Oklahoma City Sunday night.
Following the cleaning of vandalism and property damage Dickerson and other BLM members held a live press conference Monday afternoon demanding various actions be taken by Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and other city leaders.
Dickerson said BLM wants to meet with Holt in the next 24 hours to discuss their demands which include an apology from OKC Police Chief Wade Gourley and Holt, the immediate resignation of Gourley, the immediate release without charges of all incarcerated protestors who were arrested for nonviolent offenses, disciplinary action and termination against all police officers who violently attacked peaceful protesters, justice for various black men killed or wrongfully imprisoned by police officers who remain free or unpunished and several other items they hope will be implemented to make necessary change happen.