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UPDATE: Peaceful OKC Black Lives Matter March Bookended By Violence And Vandalism

Logan Layden
StateImpact Oklahoma
Marchers approach the Oklahoma Capitol during a Black Lives Matter protest May 31

A massive, peaceful protest opposing police brutality Sunday in Oklahoma City was marred by clashes with police.


Saturday night a George Floyd protest in Oklahoma City’s downtown ended with broken windows, rocks and glass being thrown at police, and tear gas being deployed to suppress the crowd. One person was hit with a tear gas canister, leaving a large welt. Protester Rain Gonzalez was assisting the man after helping to move him away from police officers.


“The police, I don’t know if they’re scared of black people,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know if they’re intimidated. I don’t know if their egos are too large. But there’s a serious brutality problem in this country. It’s not getting solved.”


By the overnight hours nearly 30 people were detained.


Sunday afternoon was different. What started as a Black Lives Matter rally a few blocks from the state capitol evolved into a thousands strong peaceful march to the steps of the capitol. Along the route, community members passed out water, grilled out, and chanted support for marchers. Protester Tomia Bonner made her reasons for being there clear.


“We’ve done everything that we know to possibly do to be able to get this system to yield to us, and to treat us as people, as human beings,” Bonner said.


A group of protesters then moved to the Oklahoma County Jail, but remained peaceful as officers knelt together at one point and kept their distance. But as night fell, aggression ramped up, leading to more tear gas, businesses damaged, and some looting, which Black Lives Matter organizers strongly condemn.


Logan Layden is a reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma. Logan spent six years as a reporter with StateImpact from 2011 to 2017.
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