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Oklahoma rally speakers say police killing in Ferguson, Mo., could happen anywhere

About 100 people of different races gathered for a rally at the Oklahoma Capitol on Thursday, moved to action by unrest in Missouri following the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
by Jennifer Palmer Published: August 21, 2014


photo - 
Michael Washington raises his arms into the air during a rally Thursday at the state Capitol. Washington is with a group called “Empower People.” At Thursday’s rally, the crowd was asked to raise both arms in the air and shout, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” a chant heard frequently heard in the protests in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a local police officer. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Michael Washington raises his arms into the air during a rally Thursday at the state Capitol. Washington is with a group called “Empower People.” At Thursday’s rally, the crowd was asked to raise both arms in the air and shout, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” a chant heard frequently heard in the protests in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a local police officer. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

A crowd gathered on the steps of the state Capitol on Thursday for a rally in response to the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Each time someone shouted “Hands up,” the arms of black, white, Hispanic and American Indian men and women, young and old, rose into the air. The crowd responded: “Don’t shoot!” — a mantra repeated throughout the event.

Some of those at the rally had family or friends die at the hands of police; others attended to protest a justice system they say treats minorities unfairly.

Brown’s Aug. 9 death has outraged people across the country. About 100 people braved the midday heat Thursday for the Oklahoma City rally, organized by Rep. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City.

Speakers included legislators, church pastors, and representatives from the NAACP and other civic organizations. Virgil Green, the Oklahoma president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, represented law enforcement.

Attending the rally was Alex Francisco, a University of Oklahoma student who said she often worries her brothers’ physical characteristics — large stature, dark skin — overshadows their intrinsic value as human beings.

She participated in rallies on campus following the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, another high-profile, racially charged shooting.

“I think we should organize as a community,” Francisco said. “Community organizing is effective. Lobbying is effective.”

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by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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