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Billingsley’s testimony to Tulsa City Councilors on youth arrest

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PUBLISHED 06/22/2019 | Reading Time: 2:20

TULSA, Okla. — Tyrance Billingsley, 23, is a community leader and north Tulsa resident. And like most north Tulsans and people of color in the city of Tulsa, he’s concerned with the lack of urgency from the city when it comes to policy changes in policing practices in the city of Tulsa’s police department. 

Billingsley approached the podium on Wednesday night to address district councilors on the disproportionate juvenile arrest rates for black youth in the city.

He spoke for all youth in Tulsa and challenged city councilors to imagine if it were their children who experienced negative encounters with the police.

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Tyrance Billingsley II’s testimony to Tulsa City Councilors:

“Rather than one simple testimony, I want to offer a different perspective and ask that you all take it to heart.

We have to do better.

Looking at these indicators, I like to think that there isn’t a single individual on this council who doubts that we have to do better, but what I wonder about is the level of urgency that some of you and others in this city feel about us doing better.

I stood here before and talked about how I served a year in a school and you the kids of color I came to love more than myself.

Working with these black and brown youth, I heard on a regular basis a number of stories that I could have used here, but, if you can believe it, I could not pick one.

I would rather speak for all of them.

At this point I can only simply say, these are all of our kids.

And to those on the council and in the police department, and anyone who will listen that do not have children of color, hear me when I say, Until you plug in so deep that you toss and turn and cry at night over the prospect of what children of color in this city are likely to experience, you don’t feel this urgently enough.

I have seen many of you on Facebook posting about your kids, their accomplishments, how proud you are to have them and be their parents.

Until you see their faces when you look at these numbers, until you see your child being treated suspiciously, until you see your child being deemed dangerous to the point of the use of force as a result of simply expressing common human emotions and frustration, you don’t feel this urgently enough.

I am speaking like this because even though this issue is about systems, systems are comprised of individuals, and every individual who gets a better grip stands to break the system.

The reality is, To those of you without children of color, your kids will likely never experience the reality these indicators paint for ours.

I know that with these hearings it may seem like the urgency is there in our city. But until you can garner the level of emotion that causes you to hold the baby pictures and documented memories of your children — the people you love most and cry and spend nights on your knees asking the creator to protect their right to exist, you don’t feel this urgently enough.

On the topic of urgency, I would like to point that our Mayor is here, but for whatever reason, our police chief is not. The question I would ask of the people who implement these policies is: When you define the practices that lead to these results, do you see your children?”


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Tyrance Billingsley is a contributing writer of The Black Wall Street Times as well as an entrepreneurial and politically active African American in Tulsa. He chose to stay in Tulsa after high school in an effort to establish himself locally and to help build Tulsa into the global hub it once was — for all its citizens. Tyrance is very passionate about Tulsa and hopes to use Tulsa as a launchpad for global change.

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