Tulsa: December 2008 Archives

I was at Tulsa Promenade with my family over the weekend and had taken the 12-year-old son to the food court for a late lunch, when I saw this ad for the Tulsa Zoo:


It's a spoof of the famous Che Guevara poster, depicting a lion as Che, wearing a beret, with the Tulsa Zoo logo in place of the Communist star.

Since when, I wondered, is it OK to use an image honoring a murderous, totalitarian thug to advertise a city-owned, family-oriented tourist attraction?

Perhaps I'm overreacting. Perhaps not. The surest way to tell is to substitute Communist imagery with that of a different totalitarian movement. Would the image below have been approved by Tulsa Zoo management for use in an ad?

The December 18-24, 2008, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly includes a feature story about Santa David Bates by managing editor Katie Sullivan. Some clips:

Bates is in his fourth year as one of Tulsa's many Santas that grace the city's holiday surroundings and events. After retiring four years ago from St. Francis hospital, Bates decided to kick off his boots, relax and let his hair down -- or, in this case, his beard grow out.

Bates' friends and family members then began to notice his strong resemblance to Santa Claus, and this compelled Bates to dress as Santa for Halloween one year. In his full garb on Halloween night, Bates thoroughly enjoyed each and every time he heard the doorbell ring. The neighborhood trick-or-treaters shared his joy. Their faces changed instantly when Bates opened the door. Some kids froze with astonished looks on their faces, wondering if Bates was crazy and had mistaken which holiday it was. Others immediately lit up and yelled, "Santa!" Naturally, Bates handed out candy canes, which he said "are extremely hard to find in October." It was in the reactions from the kids that Bates reveled. "Where's Rudolph? and "Why are you here?" were some of the children's inquiries.

After that night, Bates knew this would be one Halloween costume worth resurrecting. Shortly after, he heard Philbrook needed a replacement Santa to fill in for the season. "That's when I fell in love with doing it," Bates said. "I don't do malls or shopping centers. Those are too strenuous." He keeps his holiday season schedule full of small individual gatherings, private parties, nursing homes, museum and library trips and hospital visits....

The gentle giant mentality comes naturally to Bates, a loving father and grandfather who boasted of his own kids' and grandkids' achievements. "You couldn't do this job without having the joy and pleasure of children. That's the best part." Bates also likes to hand out a card to the children he sees that explains God's love for them and that the greatest gift of all was Jesus Christ. For Bates, the legacy and tradition hold the utmost value.

Tulsa Santa David Bates is on the web at santatulsa.com. I'm very proud of my dad and happy that he's found such a fun and rewarding role in his retirement.

Saturday shopportunities

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If you're looking for out-of-the-ordinary Christmas gifts, here are a couple of special shopping opportunities around Tulsa for tomorrow, Saturday, December 13, 2008:

From 4 pm to 6 pm, Jack Frank will be signing his latest Tulsa Films DVD release, Tulsa Deco, as well as the two volumes of Fantastic Tulsa Films. The signing will be at the midtown Borders, 21st and the Broken Arrow Expressway. The hour-long Tulsa Deco show is a great gift for the longtime Tulsan with a love for local history and architecture or for the newcomer who's heard about Tulsa art deco and wonders what all the fuss is about.

And from 3 pm to 11 pm, Ida Red, at 3346 S. Peoria in Brookside, will be the site of the Handmade Holiday Market, featuring the work of The Knit Owl, Such Pretty Things, Blue Turtle Soap, Holly Rocks, and Clover Studios. There will be live music from Joy and Day, Fiawna Forté, and Erin Austin.

Both events are great opportunities to support local artists and artisans.

It happened on September 5, but only recently did it make the news.

Last Thursday, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Sheldon Robinson was honored by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority as Trooper of the Month for his quick thinking and action in subduing a man in who had come into the Burger King at 41st and Memorial in Tulsa with the apparent intent of shooting the place up.

On Sept. 5, Robinson dropped his wife and two children off at the Burger King restaurant at 41st Street and Memorial Drive and was pulling into an auto dealership across the street for an oil change when his cell phone rang.

"My spouse told me there was a man inside with a gun, saying he was going to kill everybody," said Robinson, an 11-year veteran of the highway patrol who is assigned to the Creek and Muskogee turnpikes.

Robinson turned around in time to see people fleeing the building, including his wife, who grabbed the couple's two children and hid in a nearby trash container area, closing the doors behind her.

Robinson went in, saw the man with a .40 caliber Glock and a box of ammo beside him, and blindsided him while the man's hand was off his gun, wrestling him to the ground to try to cuff him.

Pay close attention to this next sentence (emphasis added):

"It was one of those deals of being in the right place at the right time," Robinson said. "I believe he would have loaded up that gun and gone to town because he was praying for Allah to help him carry out his mission."

The man with the Glock was Jerome Norvell Denson, described in the jail population report as a 24-year-old black male, 5'11", 230 lbs. Court records give an address in the Normandy Apartments, a Section 8 complex just west of Sheridan on 36th St. He was booked into jail by Tulsa Police on Nov. 24 at 5:25 pm. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 24. He has been charged with planning, attempting, or conspiring to perform act of violence, and possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony.

Given Trooper Robinson's report that Denson invoked Allah, it's worth mentioning for the benefit of non-Tulsans that Denson's place of residence is a little over a mile north from the Islamic Society of Tulsa mosque. The Burger King where the incident occurred is a half-mile south and a mile east of Denson's address.

So what happened between the incident on Sept. 5 and when he was booked into jail on Nov. 24? Court records show that he was originally charged with the two felony counts on Sept. 11.

There's an interesting note in the docket report for Oct. 6:


I'm wondering what is meant here by "state declines" and "program."

The original charges were dismissed at the state's request on Oct. 29, and then he was charged again on November 7 and back in custody on the 24th. Here's the OCIS docket report on the new charges.

The only other time Jerome Denson shows up in court records is for failure to pay an ambulance bill four years ago. He doesn't turn up on Google, except in reference to this incident.

The incident didn't make the news when it happened in September. TPD public affairs office sends a daily e-mail update to the press with information on significant occurrences in the previous 24 hours. I don't seem to have received a Sept. 6th report, but there were numerous e-mails on Sept. 5, all pertaining to Neal Richard Sweeney, who had been shot the day before and had died that morning. That probably explains why TPD didn't mention Denson's arrest in their news releases: An actual murder trumps a prevented murder, although the situation at the Burger King was certainly dramatic enough.

We'll keep an eye on this case. I'd welcome any information you may have on Jerome Norvell Denson or this case.

(Via Jihad Watch.)

UPDATE: On June 15, 2009, Denson pled nolo contendere on two counts, PLAN/ATTEMPT/CONSPIRE TO PERFORM ACT OF VIOLENCE and POSSESSION OF A FIREARM WHILE IN THE COMMISSION OF A FELONY. He was sentenced by Judge Clancy Smith to five years in prison with credit for time served.

Championship city

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Two Tulsa teams competed tonight for the Class 6A football championship. Union beat Jenks 34-20 at Lewis* Field in Stillwater, their first time ever to beat Jenks twice in the same season. I was surprised they didn't play the championship at Skelly* Stadium, but I suppose they needed to get Skelly ready for tomorrow's Conference USA championship game between TU and East Carolina.

Tomorrow there will be three state championship games played in metropolitan Tulsa, all kicking off at 1:30: Carl Albert vs. Booker T. Washington in Sand Springs (5A), Glenpool vs. OKC Bishop McGuinness in Broken Arrow (4A), and Cascia Hall vs. Claremore Sequoyah in Bixby (3A). Tulsa's Lincoln Christian plays in Ponca City at the same time against Oklahoma City's Heritage Hall, as two private schools compete for a slot in the Class 2A final against either Chandler or Kingfisher.

(Carl Albert vs. Booker T. Washington is not a Pythonesque battle of historical re-enactors, but a football game between the high school of the Mid-Del school district -- Midwest City and Del City -- and one of Tulsa's high schools.)

And if all that isn't enough sports action for one Saturday, the TulsaNow Spontaneous Softball Invitational will take place on the future location of Driller Stadium -- near Archer and Greenwood downtown -- tomorrow morning at 10:30 am. This may be the first outdoor ballgame of any sort downtown since the days of McNulty Park. You're welcome to come and play, or just cheer the players on.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from December 2008.

Tulsa: November 2008 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: January 2009 is the next archive.

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