Judge dismisses reparations claim for Tulsa race massacre


An Oklahoma judge has dismissed a suit for redress for 1921 race massacre of tulsa, a vigorous attempt to bring some measure of legal justice to the survivors of the deadly racist rampage.

Judge Caroline Wall dismissed the case with prejudice on Friday legal action They try to force the city and others to make amends for the destruction of the once-thriving black neighborhood of Greenwood.

The order comes in the case of three survivors of the attack, all now in their 100s, who filed suit in 2020 hoping to see what their attorney called “justice” while they were still alive.

Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum said in a statement that the city has not yet received the full court order. “The city remains committed to finding the graves of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, encouraging economic investment in the Greenwood District, educating future generations about the worst event in our community’s history, and building a city where everyone has the same opportunities to have a great life.’ He said.

An attorney for the survivors – Lessie Benningfield Randle, Viola Fletcher and Hughes Van Ellis – did not say Sunday whether they plan to appeal. But a group that supports the lawsuit has indicated they are likely to challenge Wall’s decision.

“Judge Wall effectively sentenced the three living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre to languish — literally to death — on the Oklahoma appeals record,” the group Justice for Greenwood said in a statement. “There is no semblance of justice or access to justice here.”

Wall, a Tulsa County District Court Judge, wrote in a brief order that she will dismiss the case based on arguments from the city, the regional chamber of commerce and other state and local government agencies. She ruled against the defendants’ motions to dismiss and granted them case proceed last year.

Local Oklahoma judicial elections are technically impartial, but Wall has described himself as a “constitutional conservative” in previous campaign questionnaires.

The lawsuit was filed under Oklahoma’s public nuisance law and says the actions of the white mobs that killed hundreds of black residents and destroyed what was once the nation’s most prosperous black business district continue to impact the city today.

It has been claimed that Tulsa’s long history of racial division and tension stemmed from it The massacreAn angry white mob stormed a 35-block area, looting, killing and burning it to the ground. In addition to those killed, thousands more were left homeless and living in a hastily constructed detention center.

The city and insurance companies never compensated the victims for their losses, and the massacre ultimately created racial and economic inequalities that persist today, the lawsuit says. Goals included a detailed account of the property and wealth lost or stolen in the massacre, building a hospital in north Tulsa, and establishing a victim compensation fund.

A chamber of commerce lawyer had previously said the massacre was horrific but the nuisance it caused would not last.

Fletcher, who is 109 years old and the oldest living survivor, published a memoir last week about the life she led in the shadow of the massacre. It will be generally available in August.

In 2019, the Oklahoma Attorney General used the Public Harassment Act to force opioid drugmaker Johnson & Johnson to do so Pay the state $465 million in damages. The Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned this decision two years later.

Bleiberg reported from Dallas and Associated Press contributor Michael Biesecker provided coverage from Washington.

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