Gala marks an­niver­sary of Crutcher's death

Rel­a­tives and sup­port­ers an­nounce the for­ma­tion of a foun­da­tion in his name to pro­vide schol­ar­ships

Tulsa World - - News - By Paighten Harkins was a

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 @tul­ Twit­ter: @Paight­enHarkins

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