UNITED STATES NEWS

Some Tulsa blacks doubt rampage will prompt change

Apr 21, 2012, 5:06 PM

Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. (AP) – For a moment, someone was actually paying attention to what was going on in Jermaine Wilson’s north Tulsa neighborhood.

In the days after what authorities describe as racially motivated shootings that killed three people and wounded two more earlier this month, the national spotlight was on the crime-ridden neighborhood, where iron bars on windows belie the toys strewn in people’s front yards. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the national president of the NAACP showed up. Local church and civic leaders pledged things would finally change for the better.

But after two men were arrested for the shootings and the furor finally died down, Wilson and others in Tulsa’s predominantly black north side were left with more doubts than hopes the area would truly improve.

“Ain’t nothing going to change around here,” said Wilson, 30, who has lived on the north side all his life and inherited his tiny home from his grandmother. “It’s like a little Vietnam here, everyone walking around with their AK-47s.”

Marquis Harley notes he’s still afraid, even though the suspects are behind bars.

“When night comes, I’m inside,” the 21-year-old Harley said. “Around nine o’clock, all I hear is gunshots.”

That’s not to say the shooting rampage wasn’t terrifying. The fear was palpable as police canvassed neighborhoods for a white shooter they said had targeted victims as they were walking near their homes. All of the victims were black.

After a tense two-day search, police arrested 19-year-old Jake England and 33-year-old Alvin Watts early Easter Sunday. Watts is white; England’s attorney has said England is Cherokee Indian. They face charges of first-degree murder, shooting with intent to kill and malicious harassment.

Authorities believe England may have wanted to avenge his father’s shooting death by a black man two years ago. However, England has said he has no ill-will toward black people.

The shootings happened not far from one of the nation’s worst race riots more than 90 years ago, where as many as 300 blacks died. Today, beyond Tulsa’s oil mansions and downtown bustle, some black residents still consider this northeastern Oklahoma city of 391,000 divided. The north side today is pocked with blight, vacant lots and its share of crime _ what the past three decades or so didn’t take here, the recession did.

Standing near a sometimes-basketball court overgrown with weeds and sprinkled with glass shards, Harley and 20-year-old Terance Brown describe what summer life is like in north Tulsa for young black men.

“All you see over there is a barber shop and a liquor store,” Harley said, gesturing down the street. He mows lawns for extra money and says he wishes he could buy up some of the abandoned houses on his street _ the ones with plywood covering windows and doors, spray-painted with the street addresses because the weeds are too tall to see the numbers on the curb _ so more young people like him would move in.

“It’s just crazy what they do out here,” Brown said. “I’ve been shot before. … And I’m just an innocent bystander getting out of the car.”

Theophilus Ballard, an 84-year-old retired truck driver who was born in Tulsa and came back to live here in 1974, said the north side has always been worse off than the rest of the city, and he doesn’t expect that to change now.

“I don’t know. People just live better over there, I think, than they do over here. If you have a good job and plenty of money, you want to get away from here,” he said.

Others, though, do have hope.

At the First Baptist Church North Tulsa where Jackson preached about redemption, senior pastor Anthony Scott said the black community is still riding the euphoria of the weekend, when talk turned to hope and revitalization.

“It’s really incumbent on leaders like myself to bring that to fruition, to rebuild hope and trust and rebuild infrastructure,” Scott said. “I do feel like the common citizen in north Tulsa feels like they’ve finally received genuine sympathy and concern from the Tulsa community, and they don’t want that to go away.

“There might be a sense of, `here we go again,’ but this expression of grief and concern from the entire city has certainly given them a feeling that there aren’t two Tulsas, but one.”

State Rep.-elect Kevin Matthews, a retired firefighter whose district encompasses north Tulsa, said the city needs to acknowledge the “blatant disparity” between north Tulsa and the rest of the city in terms of infrastructure, grocery stores and businesses with good-paying jobs.

“We have so many people leaving right now,” Matthews said. “They want to go where they can drive two blocks to a franchise chain to eat. People are wanting to go to where schools are opening instead of closing. Therefore, what’s left is those people that don’t have that opportunity and they don’t have a voice.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - Visitors tour the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. The new term of the h...

Associated Press

The Supreme Court will take up abortion and gun cases in its new term while ethics concerns swirl

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is returning to a new term to take up some familiar topics — guns and abortion — and concerns about ethics swirling around the justices. The year also will have a heavy focus on social media and how free speech protections apply online. A big unknown is whether the […]

6 minutes ago

Kyle Ellison stands in front of a fallen tree on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Kula, Hawaii. As hig...

Associated Press

When Kula needed water to stop wildfire, it got a trickle. Many other US cities are also vulnerable

Hours before devastating fires scorched the historic town of Lahaina on Maui, Kyle Ellison labored to save his rental house in Kula, a rural mountain town 24 miles away, from a different blaze. As high winds whipped burning trees and grass, Ellison and his landlord struggled with plummeting water pressure. Ellison had to wait for […]

18 minutes ago

File - Graduating Harvard University students celebrate their degrees during commencement ceremonie...

Associated Press

Borrowers are reassessing their budgets as student loan payments resume after pandemic pause

NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of Americans must start repaying their federal student loans again in October, with monthly payments averaging hundreds of dollars a month. To get ready, borrowers are cutting expenses, taking on additional work, and looking for options to reduce their monthly payments. Megan McClelland, 38, said she has started asking for […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Truck accident in Illinois causes “multiple” deaths and an ammonia leak that leads to an evacuation

TEUTOPOLIS, Ill. (AP) — A semitruck carrying a toxic substance overturned in Illinois, causing “multiple fatalities” and dangerous air conditions that prompted the evacuation of area residents, authorities said Saturday. Firefighters, police and other emergency responders converged on the scene late Friday near Teutopolis and were still on the scene Saturday to try to contain […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

New York stunned and swamped by record-breaking rainfall as more downpours are expected

NEW YORK (AP) — One of New York’s wettest days in decades left the metropolitan area stunned and swamped Friday after heavy rainfall knocked out several subway and commuter rail lines, stranded drivers on highways, flooded basements and shuttered a terminal at LaGuardia Airport for hours. Some 8.65 inches (21.97 centimeters) of rain had fallen […]

9 hours ago

In this photo provided by the Ocean Exploration Trust, the chrysanthemum flower crest, an honored i...

Associated Press

Video provides first clear views of WWII aircraft carriers lost in the pivotal Battle of Midway

Footage from deep in the Pacific Ocean has given the first detailed look at three World War II aircraft carriers that sank in the pivotal Battle of Midway and could help solve mysteries about the days-long barrage that marked a shift in control of the Pacific theater from Japanese to U.S. forces. Remote submersibles operating […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

...

Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.

Sanderson Ford...

Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford congratulates D-backs’ on drive to great first half of 2023

The Arizona Diamondbacks just completed a red-hot first half of the major league season, and Sanderson Ford wants to send its congratulations to the ballclub.

Some Tulsa blacks doubt rampage will prompt change