Emotions ran high on Tuesday at a rally organized by the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police to stand with the leadership of Oklahoma City’s Chief of Police Wade Gourley.
Black Lives Matter OKC demanded on Monday the chief resign his position for what the organization called aggressive actions by officers during two days of protesting. The FOP leadership said while they do not always see eye-to-eye with Gourley, they do not think he should resign.
A large showing of police officers applauded FOP President John George’s reaction to BLM OKC’s demand.
“We want Chief Gourley to know he has nothing to apologize for and absolutely no need to resign,” said George.
Organizers of the rally said it was planned before BLM OKC called for Gourley’s resignation, among a list of other demands for the department.
George said the event was intended to recognize how officers handled tense situations during the recent protests.
“We only react to force,” said George. “That’s all the police department ever does. We react to force and many of your news stations reported that the line was held until bottles and rocks were thrown at them.”
FOP leaders called out Oklahoma City Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon for her comments to the media in response to how police handled protesters.
“It would be disingenuous for a city councilor or city leader to blame these officers for escalating the events of Saturday night,” said Mark Nelson, OKC FOP Vice President. “I probably have some stronger words for that, but I’ll leave it at that.”
They wanted citizens and city leaders to know the department is always striving to improve. Officers go through "implicit bias" training, along with learning other ways to increase police accountability.
“We’ve instituted de-escalation training,” said Nelson. “Body worn cameras, less-lethal option. There are a number of things we keep learning about how to do things better. That doesn’t ever stop.”
Nelson said the FOP has reached out to BLM OKC leaders requesting a meeting to discuss their list of demands for police.