A video shows the group shouting, “USA! USA! USA!” as Turner began his sermon explaining the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which left as many as 300 black people dead and leveled a 40-square block area of the all-black community of Greenwood.
On Monday, Tulsa broke ground in its search for suspected mass graves from the century-old massacre.
Turner, senior pastor of the historic Vernon AME Church in Greenwood, has come to City Hall each Wednesday for more than two years to protest the massacre and demand reparations for survivors and descendants.
“A racist mob of white people descended on Greenwood and dropped a bomb on Greenwood and killed black people,” Turner shouted in the bullhorn. “And not one of those angry, racist thugs was charged with a crime. God sits high and looks low.”
As Turner continued his sermon, the group of white demonstrators mocked him, with one asking if he took credit cards and another warning that he was “the sign of the beast.”
As the group jeered, Turner shouted: “You care more about a face mask than you do justice, than you do for people whose bodies are still in mass graves.”
One white man shouted, “My ancestors freed your people.” Another shouted, “You are a baldfaced liar.” One white man, wearing a red hat, screamed in Turner’s right ear. Two women are seen in the video grabbing Turner’s left arm.
Tulsa Police Communications Officer Jeanne Pierce told The Post that the department has not determined whether a police report about the incident was filed. “If a report is not filed,” Pierce said, “there will be no investigation.”
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, a Republican, denounced the attack on Turner.
“The plaza in front of City Hall belongs to every Tulsan, and every Tulsan should feel welcome to make their voice heard in that space,” Bynum said. “Reverend Turner and I have had our differences of opinion, but I will always support his right to express that opinion. I encourage all crime victims to file a report with the Tulsa Police Department so they can follow up accordingly.”
The anti-mask protests followed a vote by the city council approving an ordinance requiring that face coverings be worn in public settings in Tulsa, where covid-19 cases have spiked. The mask ordinance passed weeks after President Trump appeared in Tulsa at a campaign rally that drew more than 6,000 people to an indoor arena, where few wore masks.
During an interview inside the historic Vernon AME Church, Turner said he was not physically injured but said someone in the group poured liquid on him.
“I hope it was water,” Turner said, standing outside the sanctuary where black people sought refuge during the massacre.
“A lady grabbed my shoulder,” he said. “But as a black man, I couldn’t grab my arm back because if I do that it is going to be seen as a threat.”
Turner said he felt surrounded: “I saw a small glimpse of what it must have felt like on the [slave] auction block. As a black man, people poking and prodding you.”
Turner said one man insulted him by throwing money at him.
“I won’t get any reparations from the race massacre,” Turner explained. “I’m not from Tulsa. I’m from Alabama. It’s not for me. It’s for the people in this community, who have seen so much damage and suffering. And then for people to call you ‘boy’ and ‘Get out of here you, liar.’ And then the look in their eyes was just so hateful.”
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