Tulsa City Councilor Cass Fahler, District 5
Published 02/05/2019 | Reading Time 2 min 40 sec
By BWST Staff
Councilman Cass Fahler said he was “feeling determined” as he posted a “call to action” on Facebook this morning that blasts both calls for hearings on the Tulsa Equality Indicators and Mayor Bynum’s plan for the creation of an Office of Independent Monitor (OIM), which would serve as a civilian oversight board for law enforcement in the city of Tulsa.
The post goes on to insinuate that the OIM and the proposed equality indicator hearings, which the city council is mulling over, would “attempt to seize” authority from the Tulsa Police Department and asks for Tulsa residents to “stand with me in the fight to protect TPD”.
The Times became aware of the post after multiple individuals sent screenshots via social media within minutes of its posting.
Citizens have responded on the post itself, calling the comments “troubling” and correcting the Councilor’s language which called the potential equality indicator hearings “judicial hearings”.
The Fraternal Order of Police, a lobbying organization that donated to Fahler’s 2018 campaign, recently voiced opposition similar to that raised in Fahler’s post.
The wording of the post cuts against the proposed framework of the OIM’s structure as laid out by the Mayor’s Office and as evidenced in other civilian oversight boards across the nation. In a statement to the Times, Mayor Bynum said “I look forward to discussing the Office of the Independent Monitor in more detail with my City Council colleagues on Wednesday.”
It also runs in contrast to a recently published letter from the Tulsa Black Officers Coalition, representing members of the police force who support the creation of the Office of the Independent Monitor.
The recommendations for the equality indicator hearings and the OIM come after years of community activism calling for reform. These calls for reform heightened exponentially following the killings of Jeremy Lake, Eric Harris, Terence Crutcher and Joshua Barre.
The latest Equality Indicator Report, published by the city in the Spring of 2018, showed that Black citizens in Tulsa were 2-3 times more likely to be subject to arrest and use of force by police than their white counterparts. These deep racial disparities also carried into areas of housing, healthcare, education and economic opportunity.
In addition, widely anticipated results of a recent Gallup survey showed that nearly half of Tulsans are classified as “struggling” and one in every 25 are classified as “suffering” as a result of these disparities in racial and social justice. The report also highlighted 19 US cities surpassing Tulsa with the next highest percentages of citizens classified as “thriving”. Of those 19 US cities, 17 of them have functioning civilian oversight committees to monitor reports of use of force within community policing.
Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, President and Founder of the Terence Crutcher Foundation, responded to Fahler’s post, calling it “tone-deaf” and “appalling”.
In a statement to the Black Wall Street Times, Crutcher wrote “To put out a narrative that is rooted in fear-mongering and mistruth is dangerous and further erodes the trust that so many of our community stakeholders, law enforcement officers, elected officials, and citizens of Tulsa are working hard to reestablish. We can’t find solutions to our problems if we don’t acknowledge that we have them.”
The Black Wall Street Times has reached out to Councilor Fahler for comment and will update this story if a response is received. He represents city council District 5.