On Wednesday, July 15, Rev. Robert Turner, a commissioner from the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) was assaulted, both physically and verbally, by an angry white mob outside of City Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The incident was caught on cell phone video.
Rev. Turner is the pastor of the historic AME Church in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, once known as ‘The Black Wall Street.’ The entire edifice of the church was destroyed in the horrendous race riot of 1921 when white mobs firebombed most of the buildings in Greenwood and killed some 300 African American residents of that community. Only the foundation of the church remained after the widespread destruction.
Rev. Turner was holding a “Reparations Now” placard and a hand-held loudspeaker while delivering his weekly Bible study for reparations. He was shoved, water was thrown at him and some of the mob mocked him by throwing dollar bills at his placard while chanting “USA, USA.” The mob was at the time protesting Tulsa’s mask-wearing ordinance.
Upon receiving the news, several NAARC commissioners expressed outrage at this unprovoked assault on Rev. Turner. They also voiced concern for his safety and security in the future and assured him that they were holding him in their prayers.
NAARC Commissioner Dr. E. Faye Williams Esq., said, “Obviously these are Trumpers. Nobody else could be that ignorant. I thought that young white women had learned their lesson from #45, but obviously not! This is scary”.
NAARC Commissioner Dr. V.P. Franklin declared that the incident should serve as a rallying point for African Americans in Tulsa seeking reparations for the 1921 massacre. “Show the footage to other black ministers and congregations and ask them to join you in a march and protest for Reparations Now!” he suggested to Rev. Turner.
NAARC Commissioner Dr. Patricia Newton added, “We must not go out alone in these settings especially in light of the fact that white nationalist groups are initiating new recruits into their ranks with the mandate to kill Black men, according to intelligence reports over the past month”.
Commissioner Kamm Howard added, “I think there should be a campaign to expose by name those who were in the video being most vocal and aggressive. Then there should be demands to their employers to fire them…only when these types of consequences occur, can we have a minimum sense of safety in these situations. But we also have to remember we are in Trump-Era America”.
NAARC’s Convenor Dr. Ron Daniels called on all the commissioners, as well as reparations advocates and activists across the country, to stand firm and resolute in the face of all forms of racist attacks.
“As we build momentum in the righteous struggle for reparations for African enslavement in this country, we can expect to encounter more incidences of this type,” he said. “But we are not afraid, and attacks like the one in Tulsa only strengthens our resolve and determination to push ahead with the struggle for reparatory justice for our people”.
PDF version of this statement available here.