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Tulsa Race Massacre's Last Known Survivors Challenge Oklahoma High Court Decision

Attorneys for Viola Fletcher, 110, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 109, the last survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, have petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reconsider their case dismissal. They also appealed to the Biden administration for support. The massacre, one of the worst acts of violence against Black Americans, resulted in up to 300 deaths, the destruction of over 1,200 properties, and the internment of thousands by a white mob, some of whom were deputized.

The women requested the court to reevaluate its 8-1 decision upholding a district court's dismissal from last year. They criticized Oklahoma and the U.S. for failing Black citizens, noting that despite the evident crimes, no indictments were made, and most insurance claims remained unpaid. The survivors recalled witnessing the violence and looting firsthand.

Attorney Damario Solomon Simmons urged the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the massacre under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007, which permits reopening cold cases of pre-1970 violent crimes against Black people. However, the DOJ declined to comment.

The dismissed lawsuit sought restitution under Oklahoma's public nuisance law, aiming to hold the city of Tulsa accountable for the massacre's destruction. Attorneys argued that Tulsa profited from promoting the historical reputation of Black Wall Street and should place any revenue from such promotions into a compensation fund for the victims and their descendants. This includes income from the Greenwood Rising History Center, which commemorates the Greenwood District, also known as Black Wall Street, destroyed during the massacre.

Link: AP News


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