|Updated: 4/13/2012 7:27 pm
||Published: 4/13/2012 2:35 pm
Flanked by North Tulsa community leaders and pastors, the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a press conference in Tulsa Friday afternoon to discuss the aftermath of the North Tulsa shootings. Two men, Alvin Watts and Jake England, are accused of shooting five African American victims in Tulsa in the early morning hours of Good Friday, killing two of them.
Rev. Jackson praised Tulsa's district attorney for filing hate crime charges against the suspects. He said the crime and others like it across the nation shed light on the need for gun and prison reform.
"This is a national crisis," said Rev. Jackson, who attended the funeral of shooting victim Bobby Clark this morning. "The poison that [the suspects] represent is in the air. This is not about black and white, but about right and wrong."
Rev. Jackson said the hate crime law in Oklahoma needs more teeth, suggesting it should be a felony rather than a misdemeanor as it is written now.
"Citizens should not have to feel afraid," said Rev. Jackson, saying his mission while meeting with Tulsa's leaders and pastors is to foster "equality, justice and security."
There was a resounding "Amen" in the crowd as Jackson stated: "There are some broken hearts in town. Our mission is to heal the broken hearted, set the captive free, and do it now."
Jackson also found time to address doubters who feel his visit is about getting media attention instead of helping to bridge Tulsa's racial divide.
"They should be concerned about those who are killing innocent people based upon revenge, that’s the threat."
Tulsa City Councilman Jack Henderson said skeptics about Reverend Jackson's message are welcome to attend Saturday's prayer service.
"Tomorrow night’s service, it’s going to be a healing service. It’s going to be a reach out to the community service, and I think that those who think anything other than that need to check it out."
Jackson will hold that prayer service Saturday at 6pm at First Baptist Church of North Tulsa.