July 8, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY – Following the tragic deaths this week of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the hundreds of other recent killings of  black Americans, Black Lives Matter Oklahoma, OKC Artists for Justice, NAACP OKC, the MLK Coalition, and the ACLU of Oklahoma will conduct a peaceful protest and memorial vigil in solidarity with the impacted families and communities.

This peaceful gathering will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10, downtown Oklahoma City. The event will feature a march, speakers, music, poetry, and an opportunity for communities to come together and mourn the loss of those who were killed. An exact location will be announced via Facebook as the event approaches.

“We are gathering with unity and peace to have enlightening and educational conversations,” said Reverend T. Sheri Dickerson of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma. “This event is about solidarity. In no way are we trying to vilify or alienate law enforcement, which would be totally contradictory to our baseline cause.”

The event organizers extend heartfelt condolences to the families of the officers who lost their lives in Dallas on Thursday evening. The shooters who callously and horrifically took the lives of the innocent officers in Dallas are not affiliated with Black Lives Matter.

“We condemn their action and all such acts as incompatible with our message and with our sense of human decency,” said Dickerson.

Like the Black Lives Matter organizers in Dallas, Black Lives Matter Oklahoma and their partner organizations seek an opportunity for unifying and peaceful dialogue that calls attention to injustice rather than creating new injustices.

“This event was prompted by the social injustice committed recently in our nation,” said Karen Gains of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma. “Let us be clear. We are not a hate group. We, like the rest of the world, are praying for the victims of Dallas. Our peaceful protest and memorial vigil is meant to honor those we have lost due to unnecessary violence and to call our leaders to pursue adamant justice.”

The event’s organizers are working closely and in cooperation with local law enforcement to ensure the security of all those who attend. Safety is of the utmost importance and will be taken very seriously.

“We cannot allow fear to prevent us from standing up for what is right,” said Auzia Antwine of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma. “We must continue to stand up for black lives and the lives of all citizens in this country even, and especially, in the case of adversity. Our greatest fear is that we will not be heard. The voices that rise in opposition cannot be louder than our own. We must work together to ensure we are heard.”

Several current and former elected officials have pledged their support, along with many prominent members of the community and organizations from around Oklahoma. Protesters are encouraged to wear black in solidarity with those who have lost their lives, their family members whose lives are forever altered, and those who continue to live their everyday life in fear of falling victim to excessive force.

“The culture that dehumanizes the lives of people of color during encounters with law enforcement is not an accident,” said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “It is a consequence of some of the most purposeful public policies of our time. This event is an opportunity to peacefully serve notice that we will not stand for a system that represents an ever present threat to people of color and unnecessarily jeopardizes the lives of law enforcement officers.”  

More information can be found at the Black Lives Matter Oklahoma’s Facebook Event Page.

Protesters can access information on their rights when protesting and when encountering law enforcement and film encounters with law enforcement by using the ACLU of Oklahoma’s Mobile Justice App.