Categorized | U.S. Government

Oklahoma Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit of Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Seeking Reparations

Viola Ford Fletcher, center, and Lessie Benningfield Randle at the Oklahoma Capitol, in Oklahoma City, on Oct. 5.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court last Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit of the last two survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, dampening the hope of advocates for racial justice that the government would make amends for one of the worst single acts of violence against Black people in U.S. history.

The nine-member court upheld the decision made by a district court judge in Tulsa last year, ruling that the plaintiff’s grievances, although legitimate, did not fall within the scope of the state’s public nuisance statute.

“We further hold that the plaintiff’s allegations do not sufficiently support a claim for unjust enrichment,” the court wrote in its decision.

Messages left Wednesday with a spokesperson for the City of Tulsa and the survivors’ attorney, Damario Solomon-Simmons, were not immediately returned.

The suit was an attempt to force the city of Tulsa and others to make recompense for the destruction by a white mob of the once-thriving Black district known as Greenwood. In 1921 — on May 31 and June 1 — the white mob, including some people hastily deputized by authorities, looted and burned the district, which was referred to as Black Wall Street.

As many as 300 Black Tulsans were killed, and thousands of survivors were forced for a time into internment camps overseen by the National Guard. Burned bricks and a fragment of a church basement are about all that survive today of the more than 30-block historically Black district.

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