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Republican mayor defends removal of Black Lives Matter mural from US city street

Mayor GT Bynum defends the removal of Black Lives Matter mural from his city’s street, becoming the first US mayor to do so.


Published 10/06/2020 | Reading Time 2 min 36 sec 

By BWSTimes Staff

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum took to Facebook in an overly emotional rebuttal for his stance to become the first US city to remove a Black Lives Matter mural from its city streets legally. This comes 4-months after Bynum proudly welcomed President Donald Trump to host a campaign rally at the BOK Center during Juneteenth weekend in a city that experienced the worst race massacre against Black Lives in US history: the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. 

Here’s what the Republican mayor said:

I always try to keep my posts focused on positive news, but have learned this year that when a grossly incorrect narrative begins it has to be corrected early or people assume it is true. This story is one of those.

Following a City Council vote in July, the Black Lives Matter mural was scheduled to be removed the first week of August. I halted that removal to allow more time for options to be explored to keep it. That was an unpopular choice, but I felt it important to be thorough.

I reached out to adjacent property owners, city councilors, and philanthropic foundations to discuss options. The City Council conducted its own review of options as well. As recently as Friday, I discussed the option of the City vacating part of Greenwood Avenue adjacent to the new Greenwood Rising museum to allow for the display of messages.

Over the course of two months all of those discussions and reviews led to one clear conclusion: the mural was placed illegally as an act of civil disobedience and it could not remain in place unless the City opened up all streets for messaging. This is why the City Council voted to recommend its removal as part of a previously-scheduled street project.

TEDC

Now, after the Greenwood mural has been removed, one person is saying I ignored his offer to take ownership of the street. Even though my office pointed out that we had not received any emails or voice messages from this individual, the Tulsa World chose to run a front page story repeating this claim and then pushed it digitally this morning.

The whole point of delaying for two months was to allow discussions like that to occur. I wanted us to have time to evaluate every option available, and we did.

To report that either I or my office “ignored” offers of help on this when we created a two month window for deliberation is completely false.

Many argue that the City should just turn a blind eye, that we should allow an illegal act to slide. What are we supposed to tell all those with other noble messages that try to go about the process legally? They can’t display their messages (honoring cops and children, to be specific), but people who knowingly broke the law get to do so? Tulsa should not be a city where the law is selectively enforced based on the personal preferences of elected officials.

A separate long-term policy discussion remains to be had around the display of messages on selective streets around town – a fair, legal process available to all. I support that discussion.

The Tulsa constituents’ clap back against the Mayor was harsh.

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