Decisive action, which included a black-led task force, led to quick arrests of two men, both white.
Thank the heavens for that. For one thing, how frightening must it have been for black citizens in north Tulsa knowing that a random killer was on the loose? And one that was clearly targeting black pedestrians at random? Few of us will ever know such terror, thank God. Our hearts go out to the good people of Tulsa.
But the swift action was a blessing for more than Tulsa. An unsolved series of murders of black residents by an unknown white or whites could only have added sparks to the racial tinderbox assembled by the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida. As of this writing, protesters there were still awaiting word on an arrest or charge in the case.
In Tulsa, not only have they made two arrests, but officials – perhaps inspired by the Martin case’s sluggishness in Florida – have made it clear the case there is their top priority. Florida seems to have caught on to the stakes, but only belatedly.
And while three of the five Tulsa victims died – and there was, most certainly, a racial motive – some modicum of comfort can be found in the prime suspect’s twisted rationale: Reports indicate it was allegedly revenge for his father’s killing in a largely black housing project, near the two-year anniversary of it. That the alleged shootist was acting out of more than blind, racist animus is a perverse comfort, but a comfort.
Yet it is only a small one. The tinderbox is no better off than before.
Whipped up by race hustlers and opportunists, the New Black Panthers and neo-Nazis appear to be mobilizing – the latter saying “We need to make sure our white citizens aren’t left defenseless,” and the former calling on blacks to “suit up and boot up” for a “race war” and to prepare to cross a Red Sea of blood.
First off, no one needs neo-Nazis for protection – and Amateur-Hour patrolling of the streets is what got us into this mess.
Secondly, the New Black Panthers’ racist hate speech – and their call for an extra-judicial bounty on the head of Trayvon Martin’s shooter – seems to cross the line of legality by inciting people to violence.
Why isn’t the U.S. Department of Justice taking a firmer hand, particularly with regard to the calls for violence and vigilantism? And why isn’t the country’s mixed-race president leading us to a more peaceful path?
The situation in Tulsa was even more aggravated than the one in Florida, and yet folks there got on top of it right away – with people of all races coming together for calm and justice. Much of the problem in Florida has been the lethargic pace of the investigation. But perhaps it’s not too late to learn from Tulsa.
Neither the murderers in Tulsa nor the shooter in Sanford speak or act for anyone else. But neither do the racist fringe elements now on stage, even though they claim to.
We’ve seen the show of force. Now it’s time for a show of unity.
We condemn the exhortations to violence and racial division, and we call on all those in government and media to do the same.