No Justice, No Peace: Attending Saturday’s Demonstrations on NW 23rd

A few years ago, a former friend—a very popular artist in Oklahoma City—confided in me he believed that Black Lives Matter was the Black equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan. As I tried to comprehend his shocking admission, I knew that because of his white skin, he would never have to know the abject fear of being pulled over by the cops, wondering if that moment would be his very last.

With the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless more, massive protests of the murders of minorities by the police has reached a fever pitch in this country and, last night, Oklahoma—a state with one of the highest number of killings by police in America—was no different, with around a thousand people, possibly more, taking to the streets of Oklahoma City Saturday evening.

Because I’m not able to drive, I walked from my house to NW 23rd and Classen at a swift pace, missing the Oklahoma City Police using intimidation tactics on the protestors. When I got there, however, it was a relatively peaceful assembly, with chants of “No Justice, No Peace!” and “I Can’t Breathe!” and “Fuck the Police!” being hurled in the officers’ general direction, many clad in riot gear.

From behind me, I heard an altercation as a bald white man tried to pick a fight with a group of young Black men, who refused to give in to him. As he left, unable to provoke them, another white man showed up with his Bible, telling the people gathered that they were going to Hell and so on. He was sent packing as the assembled crowd began to move down Classen towards NW 16th street, the Plaza District.

With ceremonial drumming provided by members of the American Indian Movement, I thought of Oklahomans like Indigenous teen Ma-ha-vist Goodblanket and handicapped Latino Magdiel Sanchez and how their deaths at the hands of police, the people sworn to protect us, were swept under the bloody rug. I started to march down Classen with the protestors, shouting “Hands up, don’t shoot!” as loud as my throat would let me.

As we turned the corner on NW 16th, spotlights from the police helicopters grew even brighter, their fears of a riot seemingly being stoked by them; throughout my time at the protest, it felt like the police wanted something to happen. Marching down the Plaza District, I heard a guy scream “Fuck you, yuppie scum!” to the area’s Saturday night revelers.

Still recovering from my stroke, I started to feel a bit of pain in my legs, and began limping a bit. A young protestor came up behind me and patted me on my sweaty back, saying “Thank you!” and offering me a bottle of water. The protest continued on, turning the corner onto N. Penn towards NW 23rd, angering many men in big trucks that spun their wheels as they made violent u-turns.

As traffic came to an absolute standstill, five police cars went speeding by me, lights flashing and sirens blaring. A crowd started to gather around the cop cars, the music of N.W.A. blasting out of stereos parked in the 7-Eleven lot. As the protestors began to surround their vehicles, the police started to back away, the crowd cheering in marked victory.

It was sometime around ten o’clock when my phone finally died. The protest started moving back up to where it started, Classen. This is where I parted the crowd to walk back to my home. From what I witnessed this evening, it was a wholly peaceful movement with multiple races gathered to protest this betrayal of human dignity.

But that wasn’t the end, by any means.

When I got home, I switched on the news to hear that, as the crowd made their way Downtown to police headquarters, the cops starting shooting rounds of tear gas. The local police, county sheriffs and, according to Twitter, the National Guard, were protecting the OKCPD headquarters and the city jail.

A second protest is scheduled for 2:30 PM today at the corner of NE 36th and Kelley Ave.

_

Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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78 Responses


  1. Be careful, Louis! Make sure you have plenty of water, a charged phone, and walk with friends.


  2. What was that comment from Malcom X about the chickens coming home to roost?


  3. Good accounting of your experience! I was proud of you guys for your efforts yesterday both evening and late night. The late night follies are just part of the whole scene when you have to resort to emotional protests. Emotion can be a powerful tool but at times it’s blunt and unforgiving. Like cutting a birthday cake with a bowling ball.


  4. As long as you protest peacefully, Americans will tolerate almost all forms of expression. But at some point, protests often become law breaking (be it minor like curfew or major as we have seen in Minn) and they need to be curtailed.

    If a dissenting protest was causing damage to you or your loved ones neighborhood, I would hope the police would have the same response as what you encountered.


    1. Remember when the President of the United States called a peaceful protester a “son of a bitch”?


    2. “Hope” is the operative word in your comment, and many black children are losing hope.


    3. I don’t think quiet time or police aggression against protestors is the answer. Some police departments walked with protestors. Until OKC can do that, the cops are failing.


    4. Colin Kapernick tried the peaceful route and he was branded a traitor and ridiculed. So don’t tell me about peacefulness.


    5. America has a long history of peaceful demonstrations. A very early one was the Boston Tea Party.

      Whether destruction of property is patriotic or treasonous depends on one’s point of view, doesn’t it?


      1. Are you attempting to compare folks dragging cases of booze out of a liquor store owned by a person trying to make a small business work with the Boston tea Party?


        1. Show some respect, Mike. Some of them didn’t even get their preferred brand. How much more sacrifice do you want?


        2. Looting is in a different category because it’s for personal gain. Nice try, Mike.

          How does your paradigm justify the Boston Tea party?


          1. The Boston Tea Party was about taxation without representation…The colonist were fighting for their right to have a voice in the government that was controlling them…The difference between the colonists and the plight of blacks in America is that black heavy population centers represented by mostly Democrats whom do more harm to their well being than good.

            And black people who have seen through deception of the Democratic party would be the first to tell you that the party is harming blacks in America.


            1. And yet 95% of blacks are still too stupid to vote Republican and for Trumpism?

              Got it. I see where you’re coming from.


            2. Not too stupid…Many blacks understand what the Democrat Party is doing to their race…Welfare programs are a tempting option for many…Does little to further the race, unfortunately.


            3. more harm than good? thats ignorance.


            4. How is that ignorance, Jeffrey?


      2. do I need to make a list of all the PEACEFUL demonstrations that have happened before Floyd’s murder? power doesn’t get to tell truth “well you can protest at these designated times, places, and ways.” the entire point is it’s to annoy and inconvenience you. that’s how it gets your attention when all those peaceful measures that have been done the last 50+ years go unheard.


  5. Did anyone else see the bigotry of this event? This happened near the Asian district where many Vietnamese Americans have centered after being forced to flee their homes when the communist took over. This group was marching and waving hammer and sickle flags who were responsible for many of these families murders. . Was this a targeted harassment against these Vietnamese Americans? Makes you think.

    Also, I like how this site was going on about how dangerous it was to go outside during the pandemic. As soon as this started it seems it wasn’t that big of deal. Just funny the virus is only needs to be taken super serious when someone wants to open their business. With this event? Nah it’s not a big deal. There was no social distancing going on at all.


    1. Concern trolling?


    2. I think two things can be true at the same time. It can be true that we need to do all that we can to social distance to prevent spread of the virus and also true that we need to make it clear that cops have to be held to a higher standard than they currently are. I saw a good number of masks in these photos. This is one of the first times in a while where I’ve felt proud to be American. Outside of the destruction of property, which has been magnified by bad actors trying to raise tensions, these protests are one of the most American things someone can be doing. You clearly have an agenda here and you did a terrible job of hiding it.


      1. Nah. The Asian district is the area I live in, these people proudly fly the “Heritage and Freedom Flag” all over the Asian district and to come to their space to fly the hammer and sickle is disgusting.

        Waving a flag that represents the literal murder of thousands of innocent people in an area those people’s families live is unconscionable. I can understand that these young people have no idea what that flag represents and aren’t aware of the millions of lives lost under it, but ignorance is no excuse. That’s equivalent to bringing a swastika to a Jewish neighborhood. If that makes you proud to be American I feel sorry for you


        1. Fly the hammer and sickle?


        2. Do you feel the same outrage when the Confederate battle flag is waved and displayed anywhere outside of plantations located in the former CSA?

          Those same emotions you articulated about in the Asian districts would apply in the greater USA when the banner of sedition is displayed.


          1. What are you trying to do? Use whataboutism to excuse the abhorrent behavior of some of these white protesters that invaded POC spaces with offensive and disrespectful imagery that glorifies the literal murders of their families?

            I mean I guess you could try and justify these actions anyway you want to. Doesn’t excuse it through.

            Anyone flying a confederate flag or a communist flag at any point is an uneducated, unpatriotic, moron. However, anyone waving either flag in a neighborhood that is predominantly full of survivors of either murderous ideology is just evil.


  6. Funny how you didn’t report on the broken out windows of the business around 16th, or the looted Walgreens, or anything that was damaged for that matter. Didn’t notice or ignored it. Which was it?


    1. It’s sad that the legitimate concerns of the demonstrators get overlooked as persons like Steve focus on damage to property.


      1. they vandalized the OKC Bombing Memorial site and destroyed a lot of property at Valir – a company that provides Hospice Care!!!!!

        classy

        Protesters broke out a lot of windows in several businesses too. so those folks don’t get to go to work today and earn a living. Black or White or Purple.

        THAT will teach those companies who have absolutely nothing to do with the crisis a lesson. for sure!

        Its hard to focus on legitimate concerns when atrocities and despicable behavior are exhibited in such a way and others don’t seem to think its a big deal.
        This event (Floyd death) had universal condemnation. Instead of building upon that and uniting, there are those who want some free TV’s and like to destroy memorials to dead children.
        what a missed opportunity for true dialog.


        1. you’re missing the point entirely. of course the violence is irrational. thats how the limbic system works. it even short circuits the PFC. but we have tried 100 different ways of peaceful expression and nothing changes. so c’est la vie.


          1. You must be brain damaged by all that Yoga.


            1. so you insist on making it personal?


  7. So does anyone remember Luis Rodriguez? He was killed (choked to death) by Moore police officers and a couple of game wardens (yes, game wardens) outside the Moore Warren Theater in 2014. The incident is eerily familiar to what happened to George Floyd in Minnesota. Did it raise an eyebrow at all from local activists? Nope. In fact it seems like most people have completely forgotten that something like this happened in their state SIX YEARS AGO.

    #oklahomastandard


    1. If we’re going down memory lane please don’t forget all the Police Officers killed in the line of duty.
      Remember if the Police all suck that much I’m betting most of us could go down there, apply for a job, and clean up the entire mess that is trying to uphold the law in America today where just about everyone has a gun. It just has to be so much easier than it looks what with all the big time money the Cops make. If you want the “Dragnet” guys patrolling your block you might start by paying them a competitive wage.
      Remember also, they enforce laws other people write. I was shocked to find out from a friend who happens to be a bail bondsman in Norman that, believe it or not, most of the bonds he writes aren’t little Sorority girls that j walked in their tank top.


      1. No, they’re not because those charges are on OR bonds and don’t require a bond. Plus, even those people who are on bond – being on bond doesn’t mean you’re bad or guilty. It only means you’re required to be in court for something. The bias you’re showing is actually part of the problem we’re trying to solve. We have a horrible emphasis on punishment over rehabilitation and that results in people with records having a tougher time fitting back into society. I spend a few decades as a criminal defense attorney and I know for a fact that many policemen have serious mental issues and shouldnt be in charge of the public’s safety. Some should only be writing parking tickets.


        1. Mental issues? Would that be someone is ask to carry a weapon and defend the public for little pay and lots of blowback, risking their lives?
          Someone is arrested in this country every 3 seconds and you don’t believe there will never be a single screw up by a truly bad cop?
          Do what Europe does and pay police a decent wage.
          I would never argue there are bad cops. There are bad, teachers, judges, Priests, etc. etc. etc.. I’ve even read there are corrupt lawyers!
          Imagine that.
          Next thing you know I’ll be seeing rioting and looting over those damned corrupted grocery store owners who refuse to keep grocery stores open in parts of town that they are robbed every other day. How dare those owners wanting their store clerks not to get shot in the face over a pack of cheap cigars. They actually want to make some money. Fucking capitalists anyway.
          The next time I want the opinion of any Attorney on the “mental issues” of a cop when there was a fairly good chance said Attorney was standing face to face with another human being slinging spit as far as he could sling it during the middle of a COVID pandemic I’ll sure enough ask for it.


          1. you know nothing about me so stop making assumptions. and after 10 years in nuclear power I damn sure know how to deal with contaminants and contagions. so spare me your ignorant guesses.


            1. Probably not lots of guessing on a self described nuclear powered lawyer who specializes in destructive rioting advice. And all at such a young age, unless that’s your kid in the picture.
              Most lawyers I’ve been around wouldn’t make the assumption that when there’s an arrest in this country of 330+ million people every 3 seconds that it would all sail as smooth as the 1st Grade walk to lunch.
              I’ve never met a lawyer with such predetermined bias. Most lawyers seem to be open minded. Probably the nuclear exposure.


      2. Police are in danger from armed persons committing crimes. That’s a given.

        Unarmed citizens should not be in danger from police. But they are.


        1. I wasn’t made aware there was some sort of special color that unarmed civilians wore that distinguished them from assholes carrying guns that mean to do harm.
          For 3k a month I’d pass on attempting to figure out the “armed” guy from the “unarmed” guy in less than 2 seconds.


          1. So shoot first, ask questions later, and keep the body cam turned off.


  8. A bunch of drunk OCU students is what was represented….


    1. No legit concerns at all out there?


  9. Stick to food reviews Louis


    1. Stick to your own closed minded circle, troll.


  10. My nephew and his friend were there too. I’m glad everyone was safe and the few people trying to harass the protestors didn’t succeed in making things turn bad. You know they’d have gotten a kick out of it had they managed to

    Nice to see personal story from someone covering this too. Local news seemed to keep it airborne and as far away from it as far as I could tell. Almost seemed scared to cover it sadly.


  11. Be careful out there. Some of the local right-wing losers may try to provoke something.


  12. .They searched my car without my permission, found no drugs, just textbooks and, angry, told me”never come back to Noble! ” My sister lives there and I was afraid to visit for a long time! She still lives in Noble and.I HATE.to drive through that place! Lucky they did not plant anything in my car! So, I guess the moral to my story is that you do not have to be a certain color….any socio-economic role will grant you entrance to that wonderful world of police prejudice!


    1. Wasn’t it the Noble police that tried to shoot a snake in a birdhouse and killed a young child nearby? If I remember right, they got away with it.


      1. igNoble


  13. and all this over someone trying to pass a counterfeit $20 dollar bill !


    1. ALLEGEDLY trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.


  14. The first part of my post was lost . I was stopped by the sheriff and 2 deputies as I was going through Noble, Oklahoma in the early 1979’s . I was a long-haired young, hippy-looking woman driving a VW bug. They stopped me for no other reason than my looks and I had long red hair. Certainly no ethnic prejudice was an apparent reason for the stop and the following threats!


    1. early 1979’s?
      I had a lot of stupid stuff happen to me in the 70’s too but I sorta forgot about it after say 1982.
      I don’t think bad policing is confined to any one era.

      if you were stopped by the sheriff and 2 deputies then your beef is with the Cleveland County Sheriff’s department – not with the Noble PD.
      have you ventured elsewhere in Cleveland County in the past 40 years? (you stated you still feared going through Noble).

      i’m very sorry for your traumatic experience. there are a lot of good people in Noble.


      1. Fine people… on many sides.


  15. Aren’t these a lot of the same people who were shaming and ridiculing the people standing around parking lots with signs wanting businesses to reopen a couple of weeks ago?

    Those protesters (obvious amateurs because they didn’t destroy anything) were mocked and called inconsiderate, stupid, dangerous, rednecks and all sorts of things by posters on this board because they weren’t social-distancing in a parking lot. Some even hoped and wished that they would contract the virus and die (nice).

    Now we have THIS group of “protesters” that are also defying social distancing requirements and with nary a word of criticism.
    Is there a cure for the COVID and i just missed it or does COVID have a selective infection mechanism whereby it judges a person’s protest prior to deciding to infect them? Is that a new mutation?

    Am I still a bad person if I don’t wear a mask and don’t destroy other people’s property or am I a bad person if I DO wear a mask and torch a couple of storefronts? At this point are the masks primarily for concealing identities since apparently COVID isn’t a concern now?
    not sure of the rules here…


    1. You know the rules very well.


    2. One group was protesting about not getting haircuts. The other group was protesting about police killing innocent and unarmed people of color. If you can’t see the difference, there is something seriously wrong with you.


      1. i must have touched a nerve there.
        oops


        1. No…..I was simply pointing out how dumb your argument was

          Haircuts vs murders


      2. It makes absolutely no difference what you are protesting for. You still have the right to do it, and the virus doesn’t care what you are protesting it still spreads the same way. If you were mad about people protesting to open their business because you thought it would spread the virus than the people protesting now are spreading it the same way. The only way you can be for one protest and against the other is to be a huge hypocrite.


        1. You are right, the virus doesn’t care what you are protesting about. But what you are protesting about absolutely makes a difference.

          If you think people to protesting to get McDonalds to bring back the McRib is the same as people protesting the killing of unarmed people of color you are delusional.

          Also, those people weren’t protesting to open their businesses. They were protesting because they wanted a hair cut or to get their nails done. Not to mention during that time, pretty much everything was open except for salons, massage parlors and bars. Its not like we were on a complete quarantine like other cities and countries.


          1. So killing innocent people by exposing them to corona virus is perfectly ok if it’s for a good cause? Your logic is moronic.

            You know who gives haircuts and messages? Small business owners. Every business is essential to the people that make a living doing them you dolt. You are just a massive hypocrite. People were saying the people wanting to return to work were putting everyone at risk, and now when massive crowds are gathering it’s not a big deal. The amount of cognitive dissidents to hold both of those views at the same time is mind boggling.


            1. I don’t believe the majority of those people were small business owners. I believe they were far right “patriots” expressing their belief that their freedom was being taken away from them. I didn’t see one sign or interview that said I’m a small business owner that isn’t allowed to be open.

              All of the barbers and massage therapists I know adapted and were able to either keep working out of their homes or going to clients homes and taking the proper precautions. So maybe the “patriots” should have spent more time figuring out how to adapt as opposed to complaining about their freedom being taken away

              Finally, what do you suggest people do to bring attention to and hopefully change the very serious problems with police injuring and killing unarmed people of color and systemic racism?


    3. Colin Kapernick tried peaceful demonstrating and no one listened. Instead they brandished him a traitor and destroyed his career. So forgive me if I find all the lamenting over violence to be rather disingenuous.


      1. so YOU are the other person who bought the Colin line of BS. I knew there had to be at least one other besides his Mom.

        Sounds like you are a proponent of violence against those who have absolutely nothing to do with what happened – you must be a blast at parties.

        tell me – did you vandalize the OKC Bombing Memorial or destroy the property of the hospice provider or both?
        since we’re abdicating violence upon the innocent and all….


        1. are you daft? I’m not advocating violence I am saying peaceful means have been used for decades and nothing changes. I watched the exact same sheriffs I have personally overheard railing on Kapernick take a knee in some lame-ass gesture of attempted solidarity. Oh, so NOW you take a knee? Nonviolent methods continue to be used but no one can say that the violence wasn’t foreseeable. And don’t give me any of that antifa bullsh!t because I know many of those faces who were there. Saw them on TV and I see them by the courthouse weekly and some daily. Plenty of them were there for the right reasons.


        2. How does one abdicate violence?

          Many more than two people supported Kaepernick. Many, many more. Perhaps more than support his most vocal critic. But I can see how one might get your impression from inside the Fox News bubble.


      2. Who is “they” exactly. The same “they” that’s poisoning people with vaccines and pretending the earth isn’t flat? I know all conspiracy theorists like to have some vague boogieman pulling strings and controlling the world but you sound crazy.

        The fact is what happened to George Floyd was murder plain and simple. The man that murdered him is charged with murder and in jail where he belongs. He should spend the rest of his life there. But what is the point of smashing windows in a state half way across the continent supposed to do? Do they want him triple arrested?


  16. Excellent reporting, Louis. Thank you.

    I have seen some amazing videos of the demonstrations (that sometimes devolved into destruction), and the sometimes out-of-control police responses to them. A cop kneeling on the neck of a woman until another cop tapped him on the shoulder and said something. Four cops using fists to beat the crap out of an apparently random protester. A cop in riot gear twitching and jumping like a football player ready to begin physical contact. If the cops wanted to show that it’s “only a few bad apples” in their ranks, these demonstrations are proving otherwise. LOTS of bad apples.

    Shit like that has been going on all our lives, but hidden by cop culture of circling the wagons. What has changed is the fact that almost everyone carries a video recorder in their pocket.

    MLK showed us the way: that peaceful, non-violent protest is the way to bring change. The violence, vandalism, and looting are 100% wrong. But is the violent element among the demonstrators really greater than the violent element among those who allegedly “protect and serve”? I don’t think so.


  17. NPR played an interview this morning with founder of the BLM movement in St. Paul MN. He wanted to be a cop all his life until his interview with the Tulsa Police Department. He aced the interview, but decided then and there that he didn’t want to be a cop. Well worth your time to listen.

    https://www.npr.org/2020/06/01/866540241/black-lives-matter-activist-wanted-to-be-a-cop-why-didnt-he


    1. yes I heard that. I found it interesting


  18. Big Bill Broonzy wrote a song about our social ills.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0c1c0ZsTLA


  19. Louis,

    Has anyone ever told you that you look white? Just from the pictures I’ve seen of you at your largest and your smallest (way to go by the way!) you look white. I get that you don’t identify as that, but you’re probably going to get treated more like a white person than a minority when it comes to these social injustice things.


    1. I look white too. Because I am.

      But how we look shouldn’t keep us from feeling empathy towards fellow members of our (human) race who are too often targeted unfairly, and even killed, by cops.

      In addition to police abuse, people who don’t “look white” are too often targeted by crazy white civilians – like the guy who blocked in the furniture delivery man in Edmond, or like the shrieking woman in Central Park who recently called the cops and lied that a black man had threatened her.

      “White privilege” isn’t a privilege at all. It’s being treated fairly, something too often denied to racial minorities. Can’t we treat people of color as if they ARE white?


  20. I won’t support the police murdering people and then covering up for each other. You shouldn’t either.


    1. Yes that is 100% exactly what he meant. How much straw do you use everyday building your arguments?


  21. One person’s protester is another person’s rioter. Your mileage may vary.


    1. we are all a villain in someone’s narrative.

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