Native Americans Occupy Indian Country in Tulsa
TULSA, Okla – Like Occupy movements all over the country, the Occupy Tulsa movement has been going on for weeks with no end in sight. On November 2nd the Tulsa Police Department used pepper spray on the handful of protesters who were violating the curfew law at Centennial Green in downtown Tulsa’s financial district. While the incident was not as widely reported as the November 18th pepper spraying at Occupy UC Davis, the Tulsa Police Department only used pepper spray that one night. From that point the arrests were kept fairly low key until the night of November 13th, when a helicopter was deployed while the police dealt with six protesters who had volunteered for civil disobedience.
Tulsa has one of the highest Native American populations in the country, so many Indian people are a part of the protest, including Jesse (Creek) and Adrian (Creek/ Seminole) Childers, who have brought five of their children out to the protests many times.
“We’re standing firm with these sisters and brothers,” Jesse Childers said. “We hope that a new generation will see that we’re making waves in order for their generation to have a better way so they don’t have to go through the madness that we’ve gone through.”
One of the videographers of the movement is Joe Briggs Jr., who is Cheyenne-Arapaho. He has been arrested three times and received a citation, so far.
Briggs started capturing video with his cellphone at the Occupy Tulsa protest for a documentary project. “After they got pepper sprayed I started hanging out with Occupy Tulsa more, and actually became involved with what they were doing,” Briggs said. “I’d been with these guys for quite a few days, I kept up with them on the Internet, and it became personal. After the pepper spray, I went from being just a historian to actually wanting to be more involved as a protester. So the next night I came out with these guys and went ahead and got arrested.”
Briggs has no doubt that the Tulsa Police Department stopped using pepper spray due to the videos being posted on YouTube.com. “After the national media exposure that they got from everybody filming there wasn’t anything to try and deny, so the second night they weren’t as aggressive,” Briggs said. As Occupy Tulsa has a legal team with paperwork ready, he has only had to spend a few hours in jail.
Briggs has a full time job as a telemarketer, so after getting out of jail he went home, changed his clothes, took a shower, and went to work. He says he is getting only a few hours of sleep a day between his job and the protest. “I have no personal life,” he joked.
Over the weekend the Occupy Tulsa movement relocated to a location in Tulsa’s entertainment center, The Brady District, across from the historic Cain’s Ballroom, so they would not disrupt The Williams Route 66 Marathon run that occurred on November 19th. However, after their Thanksgiving dinner Thursday afternoon they plan to set back up at the Centennial Green.
Occupy Wall Street is apparently planning a major protest at Federal Courthouses on January 20th across the country and Briggs says he and Occupy Tulsa plan on occupying at least until that date. He bought a tent and a sleeping bag over the weekend for the long winter ahead.
Briggs has posted his video on YouTube.com for any media relations that wish to use it under the name TeamBritneyTULSA.