Gala marks anniversary of Crutcher's death
Relatives and supporters announce the formation of a foundation in his name to provide scholarships
A few hundred people had made their way from a foyer at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame into an adjacent concert hall. By this time in the night, a jazz trio just outside had long since stop playing, and the crowd, dressed in mostly black formal wear, was seated around circular tables, also cloaked in black, waiting for the gala to begin.
Just after 7:30 p.m. it did. The lights dimmed, a bell tolled and a woman walked onstage to tell the crowd that exactly one year ago to the minute, Terence Crutcher was killed.
About 275 people attended the anniversary gala Saturday night, which marked one year since Crutcher was fatally shot by now former-Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby. Family and supporters said they gathered to celebrate Crutcher's life and to announce his legacy: a foundation in his name.
Among the speakers and attendees at the gala were Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, attorneys Damario SolomonSimmons and Benjamin Crump and Tulsa Community College President Leigh Goodson.
Not in vain
Crump, who was the gala's master of ceremonies, told attendees they must make sure Terence Crutcher's death wasn't in vain, and that by doing that, they can determine how he is remembered.
“No verdict in any courtroom will define the legacy of Terence Crutcher. We will define the legacy of Terence Crutcher,” he said.
Terence Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany, said in the year since his death, she's wanted to keep his memory alive. After a Tulsa County jury acquitted Shelby of manslaughter in her brother's death, Tiffany Crutcher said they began thinking of how to achieve that goal.
They soon went to his last conversation with Tiffany, when he told her he was going to get a music degree from TCC. He said, “God is going to get the glory out of my life.”
The idea of the foundation, in part, is to provide scholarships for individuals to go to school, whether it be at TCC or elsewhere, Tiffany Crutcher said.
“He was bettering his life through education on this very day last year. The day he was killed he had just left Tulsa Community College,” she said. “So we decided to start a foundation and pour back into our community and provide scholarships for kids who are trying to better their lives as well in Terence's name.”
Another of the foundation's goals is to redefine the term “bad dude,” which is how Tulsa Police Officer Michael Richert described Terence Crutcher during the confrontation last year. Richert watched the scene unfold from a helicopter.
The foundation's vision is the word “BAD,” which stands for belief, attitude and determination. In addition to scholarships, the foundation will focus on developing programs and raising awareness to combat issues facing people of color, specifically black men, according to their website.
“(Terence Crutcher) person that mattered. His life mattered, and this foundation is going to make sure that his legacy continues to live,” SolomonSimmons said. Paighten Harkins 918-581-8455 paighten.harkins @tulsaworld.com Twitter: @PaightenHarkins