The executive director of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City on Monday called the filing of criminal charges against protesters deeply disturbing, heartbreaking and an “instance of oppression.”
“These incendiary charges disproportionately target Black and brown youth and continue the pattern of excessive force by law enforcement against Black and brown persons and those who stand aside us in our fight for liberation,” the Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson said at a news conference outside the Oklahoma County Courthouse.
“It is revealing of the prevalence of systemic racial injustice that these charges were hastily and excessively applied to defenseless adolescents while a willingness to prosecute bad cops is notably absent,” she said.
Three protesters were charged Friday with terrorism, four with rioting and one with assault and battery upon a police officer over demonstrations in Oklahoma City on May 30 and 31.
Another five people were charged with incitement to riot over an incident last week during the painting of a street mural outside Oklahoma City police headquarters.
District Attorney David Prater made the decisions himself on the charges.
“These criminals have subverted peaceful protests and impaired the open discussion regarding race in our country,” the prosecutor said Sunday after being criticized by the ACLU of Oklahoma.
“When you act like a terrorist, you will be treated like a terrorist. All innocent citizens of Oklahoma County deserve to be protected. The citizens of Oklahoma County have a legal and constitutional right to personal safety and the protection of their property,” he said.
Dickerson was particularly critical Monday of the district attorney for filing the terrorism charges over the burning of an Oklahoma County sheriff’s van and the damage to an Oklahoma City bail bonds business. Property damage is not terrorism, she said.
She recalled in her statement to the media how Timothy McVeigh 25 years ago blew up the Oklahoma City federal building and “took the lives of 168 innocent people.” She said the district attorney “has seemingly forgotten exactly what surrounds and defines terrorism.”
“That was senseless violence. That was terrorism,” she said of the bombing.
“The continued violent murder of Black lives by police is certainly terrorism,” she added. “The use of charges such as these to intimidate and silence cries for justice, to suppress First Amendment speech, that is more akin to terrorism than what these youthful accused have ever, ever done.”
Black Lives Matter OKC issues demands including a grocery store to alleviate food apartheid.
In response to questions, she acknowledged one defendant, Saxon Weber, has provided security at Black Lives Matter events and accompanied her personally in the past.
Weber, 26, of Oklahoma City, is accused in the assault charge of shoving a police officer who was trying to arrest another protester May 30. Police reported Weber had a pistol on him and was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Weber has said he was protecting a girlfriend, his attorney confirmed to The Oklahoman.
The district attorney on Monday refiled one of the rioting charges to correct the defendant’s name to Desha Lee Dixon.
Dixon, 24, of Oklahoma City, is accused of using her car as a weapon during the protests May 31. Police reported officers had to jump out of the car’s path to avoid being struck as she accelerated — smiling — toward a police line.
While the defendants were described Monday during the Black Lives Matter news conference at one point as adolescents, police reported their ages as ranging from 18 to 31.
(c)2020 The Oklahoman
Visit The Oklahoman at www.newsok.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.