Thousands attend peaceful ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Thousands of Oklahomans participated in a Black Live Matter Oklahoma peaceful protest and march on Sunday.

"The purpose of today is unity and peace. We do want to inform this community about some of the issues that we're facing. You know this is everyone's nation. If you live in America this is your country," organizer Auziah Antwine said.

Local activists are standing up for the black lives lost across the country after being shot by police.

"When we deal with the atrocity that happens to black lives due to the policing system that are in this country. It helps other lives as well. Black lives matter doesn't mean any other life doesn`t matter," Grace Franklin with OKC Artists for Peace shared with the crowd.

"I want to speak to my fellow white folk out there in the crowd and the community. We must remember that we have to be up-standers rather than bystanders," Troy Stevenson with Freedom Oklahoma shared.

Speaking out against violence and asking for peace was something organizers preached to the crowd.

Police were out in full force to make sure the event stayed calm.

"The Oklahoma Police Department they've already out-poured their support to us. They said they were going to protect us and they just escorted our anti-protesters out of the area," organizer T. Sheri Dickerson shared.

Oklahomans say they're proud to see such an outpour of support for this movement.

It's overwhelming how many people are here and how beautiful it is to see everyone here in support of everything that's going on lately and just saying you know we want to change," crowd member Whitney Cavins said.

"I can just think back to high school when we'd all come together no matter what. It's kind of like that. We're Oklahoma we always stand proud no matter what happens. We always stand together," crowd member Jessica Strotter said.

The Oklahoma City Police Department issued a statement following the event:

A march and rally were held this evening by organizers of the Black Lives Matters movement.  The event was planned to be held in Bricktown from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Oklahoma City police have been working closely with event organizers to coordinate a safe environment for organizers, participants, onlookers and police.

The Oklahoma City Police Department had about 100 officers working the event.  The officers included Bricktown bike officers, Tactical Unit officers, Emergency Response Team members, Criminal Intelligence officers, and officers from various patrol divisions.  We also had assistance from the FBI and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.

The event began with a march of an estimated 2000-2500 people from NW 2nd and Walnut to the Harkins Plaza.  The rally included multiple speakers, music and prayer.  Overall the event was very positive and uneventful with few incidents.  Seven people were treated for heat related illnesses.  One uncooperative spectator (non-protester) caused a disturbance and was arrested.  Six counter-protesters from a pro-Confederate flag movement were in attendance but left halfway through the event. This group did not have a permit to assemble.

The vast majority of the crowd was pleasant and supportive of the police officers working the event. Several hugs, handshakes and “thank you” were exchanged as well as pictures with police officers.  We are proud to have been able to protect the 1st Amendment Rights of the participants of today’s demonstration without incidents. - Capt. Paco Balderrama, Public Information Officer

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