Getting Solutions and Reflecting on Larger Questions from the Tulsa Horse Trailer Incident
Once I first noticed the movies from Tulsa, Oklahoma exhibiting a truck and horse trailer driving by means of a crowd of protestors blocking a freeway and getting attacked, my response was that of a lately retired equestrian journalist: I wished solutions.
Why was this truck driving by means of a crowd of protestors? Why had been protestors attacking the truck? Had been there horses within the trailer the truck was hauling, and in that case, had been any of them harm from the incident?
On July 23, practically two months after the incident, many of those questions had been lastly answered: Tulsa County District Legal professional Stephen Kunzweiler launched a memo to the general public the place he defined why he wouldn’t be submitting prison prices towards the motive force of the truck. On this memo, he states, “There have been no horses within the horse trailer, though there have been rampant rumors on the contrary.”
And boy, had been these rumors rampant. Social media exploded within the days following the incident with individuals sharing the video and alleging horses had been burned and killed contained in the trailer. Many individuals sharing the video penned posts in help of the motive force, saying they might have achieved precisely what he did, and what else was he presupposed to do when a violent mob blocks the freeway and assaults his truck?
As a horse proprietor who has pushed a truck and trailer and as an individual who has been to many protests prior to now 4 years, I might really feel deeply for either side this case.
I do know the stress of sitting in site visitors on a scorching day with a horse stomping round within the trailer, worrying in the event that they’re going to colic or kick one thing and injure themselves. I do know the sensation of simply desirous to get the place you’re going and get your horse in a stall so he can loosen up. These weren’t the considerations going by means of the motive force’s thoughts as he sat on the freeway that day. The police report confirms: there have been no animals on his trailer.
He, like 100 or so different vehicles, had discovered himself caught in site visitors from a protest blocking the freeway. The explanation his truck was the one car attacked that day is as a result of he tried to drive by means of the gang, injuring a number of individuals and at one level pulling out a handgun. The stampede to get out of his method that adopted pushed a person off the overpass, who’s now paralyzed consequently.
As an individual who’s been to many protests over the previous 4 years, I watched that video and understood acutely how this case got here to unfold.
The environment at protests is commonly tense. Drawing consideration to a difficulty by taking on public house and loudly advocating for it means it’s a must to be ready for dissent—and sometimes instances the best way that dissent is voiced can really feel threatening.
I’ve by no means personally been at a protest that blocked roads. However even at demonstrations the place we’re standing on the sidewalks, it’s not unusual for vans and vehicles flying opposition flags or brandishing indicators out their window to drive by means of an intersection and rev their engines, squeal their tires or simply peel by means of at a excessive price of pace whereas throwing a crude gesture out the window.
At a latest protest in Madison, Wisconsin, the place I’m now dwelling and attending regulation faculty, a protestor was hit by a truck doing precisely that. There’s a very actual worry at these protests—an nearly tangible pressure within the air—that somebody goes to behave violently towards you for doing precisely what nice protests are designed to do: trigger a disruption in somebody’s day after day life.
Many individuals commented on the Tulsa video saying, “I agree with what the protestors are saying, however they shouldn’t be blocking the highway, why can’t they do this on the aspect of the highway? I simply need to go about my enterprise.”
However that’s exactly the purpose: the entire objective of those demonstrations is to seize the eye of people that might in any other case go about their day by day lives with out serious about police brutality or systemic racism. To make them pause and listen to the grievances of these of their group who don’t have that luxurious. Protests are by definition a disruption of the established order.
And participating in that disruption will be terrifying. If you’re standing by yourself two toes and the individual angrily yelling at you is revving their engine, you get scared.
Once I’m standing on a road nook at a protest and a automobile peels by—the frenzy of air and roar of the engine adopted by the scent of burnt rubber and black smoke—I flinch and consider Heather Heyer. Heather was the protestor in Charlottesville, North Carolina who was run over and killed by a white supremacist in 2017.
I consider the truck that drove by means of a crowd in Good, France, in 2016, killing over 80 individuals and wounding a whole bunch. I consider movies from the protests following George Floyd’s homicide, which present semi’s plowing by means of crowds blocking highways. I consider the late John Lewis, who 60 years in the past was blocking a freeway in Selma, Alabama, advocating for a similar rattling factor individuals are nonetheless preventing for at the moment.
In case you can watch the movies from Tulsa and perceive the worry within the coronary heart of that man within the truck surrounded by an indignant crowd, wanting to guard his spouse and his kids within the backseat, you in truth perceive what’s compelling these protestors to face on the freeway.
The depth of affection we really feel for these we care about and the actions it compels us to take to guard them comes from a deeply human place, maybe probably the most human a part of us. It’s not an excuse for what this man did when he drove his truck into that crowd. Neither is it one for the way that crowd reacted. Searching for issues to fully exonerate the habits of both celebration on this occasion is a futile train—maybe the extra worthwhile aim is knowing.
Understanding that the individuals standing on that freeway are there as a result of they might do something to guard their Black little one, their partner, their sibling, their buddy from turning into the subsequent identify on the nationwide information, the subsequent in a protracted listing of Black individuals killed with impunity by a system that has proven again and again it is not going to shield them.
And in numerous methods.
It received’t shield them from being gunned down on their method residence from the shop to seize some Skittles (Trayvon Martin). It received’t shield them as they go for a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). It received’t shield them whereas they play within the park (Tamir Rice). It received’t shield them as they sleep of their beds (Breonna Taylor). It received’t shield them once they’re enjoying video video games in their very own residence with their little cousin (Atatiana Jefferson). It received’t shield them once they’re sitting on their very own sofa consuming ice cream (Botham Jean).
It would kill them for promoting unfastened cigarettes (Eric Garner), for having a busted out tail gentle (Philando Castile), for sitting on the aspect of the highway ready for assist after their automobile breaks down (Corey Jones), for dancing on their method residence from work (Elijah McClain).
And when the individual you care about probably the most, that you’d do something to guard, is ripped away from you and everybody they cared about, and also you cry out to the justice system that this nation claims protects and serves all its residents equally, and also you hear silence—I can not fathom the heartbreak and rage that may devour you.
It makes me consider a poem from an nameless author that went viral within the wake of George Floyd’s demise:
“If my son went out for Skittles and didn’t return, or performed within the park and didn’t return, or went for a jog and didn’t return, or went to a celebration and didn’t return, or went to achieve for his license and didn’t return, or resisted arrest and didn’t return, and together with his dying breath known as out my identify, I’d set the world on hearth. And I’d let all of it burn.”
Activist Kimberly Jones put it much more succinctly: “We ought to be grateful that what Black individuals need on this nation is redress, and never revenge.”
And so protestors are standing on these road corners, in these parks, on these state capitol steps and sure, generally throughout these highways, demanding redress. You possibly can’t give Breonna Taylor’s mom her little one again, you possibly can’t give any of those individuals their family members again. However you possibly can advocate for change to the system that killed them, in order that the subsequent individual doesn’t need to undergo what they went by means of.
So, in case you occur to search out your self sitting in site visitors, stopped on a freeway blocked by certainly one of these protests, maybe use that point to cease and take into consideration the individuals you’re keen on and care about. Your kids, your mother and father, your spouses and buddies. Take into consideration what you’d do to guard them, to make sure they get the prospect to reside full lives, and notice these individuals blocking you’re serious about the very same factor.
Function picture courtesy of MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World. Learn in depth protection of this incident at TulsaWorld.com.
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