Judge Rules Tulsa Race Massacre Victims’ Descendants Are Unable To Sue While Survivors Can Move Forward

The Associated Press has reported that an Oklahoma judge said that six descendants of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre would not be able to sue for reparations. However, that same judge allowed three known survivors of the attack to move forward with the lawsuit.


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The Associated Press has reported that the same judge who hindered six descendants of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre from suing for reparations; has now allowed three known survivors of the attack to move forward with the lawsuit.

Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall signed an order Tuesday, August 2, to allow Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, 106, Viola “Mother” Fletcher, 107, and Hughes Van Ellis, Sr., 101, to continue seeking reparations under the state nuisance laws.

Wall also dismissed the Historic Vernon AME Church Inc. as a plaintiff and the Tulsa African Ancestral Society, who also represented other descendants. 

On the side of the defendants, Wall dismissed  the Tulsa Development Authority and the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission as defendants because they did not exist in 1921. 

Furthermore, the “ongoing public nuisance” raised by plaintiffs was also dismissed. 

The city of Tulsa, Tulsa Regional Chamber, Tulsa County commissioners, the Tulsa County sheriff, and the Oklahoma Military Department remain defendants. 

Judge Wall’s order called for attorneys on both sides to make changes to the claim for reparations, which originally sought unspecified punitive damages and called for creating a hospital in north Tulsa. 

There was also the addition of mental health and education programs and a Tulsa Massacre Victims Compensation Fund.

In addition, Damario Solomon-Simmons, an attorney for the survivors who filed the lawsuit in 2020, has said:

“Bottom line is that survivors are in, we have the opportunity to prove the massacre itself … constitutes a nuisance. We look forward to proving our case around the massacre’s ongoing catastrophic effects and demonstrating the actions that defendants must take to repair and rebuild the Greenwood community during our clients’ lifetimes.”

Solomon-Simmons said he spoke with the parties who have been dismissed from the lawsuit:

“They were saddened they were dismissed out, but they are still very excited, heartened by the fact that we are moving forward and that these survivors can represent the entire community of Greenwood,” Solomon-Simmons said.

Michael Swartz, another attorney for the survivors, proclaimed the case would be an opportunity for clarity of the massacre.

“For the first time in over 100 years, the last three living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre will finally have an opportunity to hold accountable the institutions that instigated and facilitated one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism in this country’s history,” Swartz said.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre recorded a victory on Monday when a judge allowed the case to move forward even though the defendants argued that the case should be dismissed.  

The main point of this case is the injustice the community has suffered.  

The survivors argue there is no time limit on justice when there is continued harm even a hundred years later.

Following a motion to dismiss the case, plaintiffs seeking reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre celebrated a judge’s ruling on Monday, allowing their case to move forward.

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