POSTED ON AUGUST 17, 2011:
Support Your Local Tower Man
There is one man who has inspired awe, outrage, anger, sympathy, extensive rubbernecking and even outright racism. He's brought out the best and worst in Tulsans, whose heated, often venomous comments are posted by the thousands on the area's media sites.
For those who haven't heard, on the morning of Aug. 11, a 25-year-old man known only as William climbed over halfway up a silver tower near the Clear Channel Communications building.
For days on end, Tulsa's Tower Man has rebuffed the best efforts of the Tulsa Fire and Police Departments, and refused to come down.
As time wore on, William broke the record for a police standoff in the area as he stood, sat, napped, climbed the tower like a jungle gym and withstood heat and even a lightning storm.
He's dressed in a white shirt, dark cargo shorts, bright red socks and white Nikes. William was given water, Gatorade and a cell phone (which quickly died) but no food, said Officer Leland Ashley. He was last given a bottle of Gatorade on Fri., Aug. 12.
As of press time, Tulsa's tower guy is going on five full days 200 feet in the air. Reports have said William has exceptional stamina, and has been known to walk to Dallas and back. Some family members have tried to coax the tower man down from his perch, but to no avail.
As for now, said Ashley, Tulsa Police and emergency responders are "still trying to negotiate with him.
"It doesn't appear that he's suicidal now but that can change at any moment," Ashley said.
"We offer him food, offer him water, but he needs to come down," he said.
There are about 15 officers on the scene, a bare bones crew that includes a couple of negotiators, officers on the scene and a few officers on the roof "just in case he jumps onto the roof and runs," Ashley said.
As for William's mental state, Ashley said that on Sunday it appeared that his mental state had deteriorated but on Monday morning, "he's got newfound energy. I'm not a doctor, but it just appears that's more vocal than yesterday," Ashley said.
Periodically, William tries to talk to officers just to generate conversation.
So, when will Tulsa's Tower Man come down? "He's indicated that he'll come down when he's ready to come down," Ashley said.
Soon after William climbed the tower, the Internet was abuzz with updates. Facebook groups and fan pages sprung up; dozens of homemade videos and photos have been posted all over the web; national media have come calling; and there's at least one shirt design dedicated to William. The radio hosts at Clear Channel have posted frequent updates to Twitter.
We aren't sure why he decided to climb the tower, but Tulsans have a lot to say about it. Another Tulsa icon, Paul Tay, started a group called Support Your Local Tower Man, which has seen an outpouring of concern for William.
Most comments within the closed group with more than 200 members have been positive with only the occasional flippant or racist posting.
"Just jump already," wrote one female poster. Others echoed the sentiment.
On the KOTV-TV News on 6 website, hundreds of commenters made their opinions heard, some of which were clearly racist against the African American William.
"Watch Al Sharpton fly here to sue the city for not giving tower man Popeye's chicken..." wrote a commenter.
"I think this man and the north side has this thing worked out, when TPD gets aggressive, then they will have a reason to riot and loot. They got the ideal (sic) from England," wrote someone else.
"Back a watermelon truck up to the tower," wrote another.
"Just give him what he wants, his Social Security check," wrote one poster.
Some Tulsans seemed concerned about the resources spent to watch over Tower Man. "Here we go, more default in Oklahoma. We are going to go broke again, more money out on a crazy guy. Just shoot him down, less money to spend," wrote one poster (punctuation added for comprehension).
"Shoot him out!" wrote another.
Others commented on the perceived lack of tolerance for the mentally ill William. One person posted, "Very sad what people in Tulsa find entertaining. This guy has mental problems and all you want to do is poke fun and say he's taking up tax dollars?...What if that was your son?!"
Another poster was also unhappy with the comments and wrote, "Hope none of you go off the deep end...especially in a recession."
Admiral Twin Has Pushed Back Re-Opening
No word yet on exactly when the Admiral Twin will rise from the ashes, according to the historic drive-in's owner, Blake Smith.
"We're doing better now," Smith said. "We're really just kind of looking toward 2012."
He said the Admiral Twin will hold a few very small events in October and toward the end of the year, but a re-opening won't be held until sometime next year.
The outdoor drive-in's screens at 7355 E. Eaton St. were destroyed in a fiery blaze last September. The Admiral Twin was featured in Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 film "The Outsiders," based on the novel by Oklahoman S.E. Hinton.
"Basically the season's over," Smith said. "Once we realized we weren't going to get anything done by August, we didn't feel like there was any rush.
"Unfortunately, we're not going to have anything to speak of until maybe the spring of 2012," Smith said.
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