OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As protests continue across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley says he has a message for protesters in the city.
Following a series of protests over the weekend in Oklahoma City, the local chapter of Black Lives Matter issued a series of demands from city leaders.
The first demand involved Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley.
“An apology from Police Chief Wade Gourley and Mayor David Holt and the immediate resignation of Gourley, whose lack of leadership resulted in aggressive actions by the police towards peaceful protesters, escalating tensions and resulting in violence that could have been avoided,” the demand stated.
On Tuesday, leaders with the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police insisted they only resorted to using tear gas and guns loaded with rubber bullets after protesters sparked the violence.
“Some of these guys were seeing bottles and rocks thrown at them, that’s what we were seeing,” said FOP President John George at the rally.
On Wednesday, Chief Gourley released a video regarding his thoughts on the protests and the death of George Floyd.
“The other night, for the first time in Oklahoma City history, we had a protest that just turned violent. It just doesn’t happen in Oklahoma City and it did. And it was kind of ironic, as I was sitting there and I was thinking as this was happening that everything that they’re mad about, we’re mad about too. Even to the point of several officers that I’ve talked to, they were looking at me as this was all going on and looking at the crowd and how angry they were. And that’s exactly what they were saying is, ‘They don’t understand that we’re mad too,'” said Gourley.
Gourley says as he watched the video of George Floyd’s death, he was left speechless.
“When I saw that, I couldn’t believe that a police officer, someone who is sworn to uphold the law, protect the public, would sit there with their knee across someone’s neck and just let that man suffer, and just keep that pressure on and just let that man suffer,” he said. “It was just one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch. Not only that, I think what bothered me even more was the fact that there was another officer that was standing there that just allowed that to happen. And I think that’s what I couldn’t believe more than anything.”
He said he started thinking about the relationship Oklahoma City officers have with the community, and how much his career has changed over three decades in law enforcement.
“A lot of people say that didn’t happen here, but it affected the people in this community. So we can’t just take that attitude of, ‘Hey, it didn’t happen here. We’re OK,'” he said. “As the leader of this organization, I’ve gotta do better. We’ve all gotta do better. My officers have to do better. We’ve gotta make improvements. And I don’t want to ever imply that we’re not doing a good job because I think over the history of this police department, we’ve done some really great things. Where we have fallen short and where we have made mistakes, I feel like we’ve stepped up and looked at those things and tried to improve so that we don’t do that again.”
Gourley said moving forward, he wants the community to know that the department is listening and is going to make improvements.
“If we’re not open to change and we’re not open to improving and doing better, we’ll fail as an organization and we’ll fail as a community. So my promise is to everyone that is upset and frustrated is that we’re listening, we’re gonna do some things going forward that are going to make some changes,” he said.
He said that he wants the community to know that they have the right to peacefully protest and they can also speak their mind.
“As chief of police for the Oklahoma City Police Department, I’m just here today to tell you that we’re listening, we’re gonna do better, and that black lives do matter,” Gourley said.