Oklahoma’s Last Surviving Victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre Call for Federal Investigation

A lawsuit seeking reparations for a historic massacre in Oklahoma has been rejected again, prompting calls for a federal investigation by the survivors.

Survivors Take Action

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Last month the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in favor of dismissing a lawsuit filed by the two surviving victims of the historic Tulsa massacre, which sought reparations for both victims. 

Calls for Investigation

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Now, the attorneys for the two survivors – Lessie Benningfield Randle, 109, and Viola Fletcher, 110 – are challenging the ruling, and calling on the US Department of Justice to open a federal investigation of the 1921 atrocity.

A Dark Day for America

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The pair have shed light on and sought justice for the trauma caused by the massacre, which stands as one of the darkest events in US history to this day.

The Tulsa Massacre

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Back in 1921, mobs of white residents in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attacked black residents and their properties during a two-day massacre. It resulted in anywhere between 30 and 300 deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations.

Ongoing Trauma

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It was one of the most significant white supremacist terrorist attacks in modern history. Randle and Fletcher were only children at the time, but the massacre would affect them for the rest of their lives.

Destroying, Killing, Looting

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“With our own eyes, and burned deeply into our memories, we watched white Americans destroy, kill, and loot,” Randle and Fletcher said in a joint public statement issued by their lawyers. 

No Recompense for Victims

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“Despite these obvious crimes against humanity, not one indictment was issued, most insurance claims remain unpaid or were paid for only pennies on the dollar, and Black Tulsans were forced to leave their homes and live in fear,” they continued.

Last Years Ruling 

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The ruling stems back to last year’s decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which chose to dismiss the survivor’s lawsuit seeking reparations for the massacre in July.

Rejected for the Second Time

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Randle and Fletcher’s attorneys made the decision to appeal the ruling. Last month the state’s Supreme Court chose to reject the lawsuit for the second time in a year.

Calling President Biden

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Both plaintiffs condemned the Oklahoma ruling, and are now calling on President Biden and the DOJ to launch an investigation that could support their claims. 

Years of “Begging”

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According to Damario Solomon-Simmons, the lead attorney on the case, both women have been “begging” the agency to launch a federal investigation for years. 

An Issue for Black America

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Solomon-Simmons believes the case is not just a matter of personal grievance for the two women, but one that affects all of “Black America.”

Time May be Running Out

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With the 2024 presidential elections looming, they are running out of time to seek help from the Biden administration. The current president once met with Randle and Fletcher during the 100-year anniversary of the massacre in 2021 but has taken no action to support their claims.

“Time to Show Black America”

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“It is time for the administration to show not just Mother Randle, not just the Greenwood community, but Black America that they will stand with us in our time of need,” Solomon-Simmons said.

The Emmet Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act

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Their request is not without cause. The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007 allows the DOJ to reopen historic cases of violent crime against Black people.

Ongoing Public Nuisance

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The basis of the lawsuit rested on the allegations that the City of Tulsa, Tulsa County, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, and other regional bodies have caused an ongoing public nuisance both during the massacre and to this day.

Millions in Profit

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They also claim that the city has directly profited from the massacre, making tens of millions of dollars in local tourism over the years via the historic Greenwood District, also known as “Black Wall Street” where the massacre took place.

Consider the Victims

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The lawsuit argued that a portion of the revenue made from cultural tourism in Greenwood, particularly through the Greenwood Rising History Center, should be put aside for the two remaining victims and their families. 

“Profoundly Disappointed”

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“We are profoundly disappointed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision to reject our lawsuit,” Randle and Fletcher said during a press conference in Tulsa this week. 

A Dark Consideration

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“We are deeply saddened that we may not live long enough to see the State of Oklahoma or the United States of America honestly confront and right the wrongs of one of the darkest days of American history.”

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The post Oklahoma’s Last Surviving Victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre Call for Federal Investigation first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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