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BY Abu Mubarik, 4:50pm June 18, 2024,

Tulsa survivors denied reparations again

Viola Fletcher is the oldest living survivor of the event. Photo: CBS

Survivors of the Tulsa massacre have lost a historic legal bid for reparations over the attack. The suit, which was filed in 2020 by three survivors of the massacre, was thrown out by the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The state’s top court said the grievances of the appellants did not entitle them to compensation. “With respect to their public nuisance claim, though Plaintiffs’ grievances are legitimate, they do not fall within the scope of our State’s public nuisance statute,” the court wrote.

The ruling affirmed a lower court ruling where the judge concluded that “simply being connected to a historical event does not provide a person with unlimited rights to seek compensation”.

The suit was filed by survivors Viola Fletcher, 110, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 109. The third, Hughes Van Ellis, died last year at 102. The case was filed under Oklahoma’s public nuisance law and the trio argued that violence and destruction wrought on the “Black Wall Street” area more than a century ago continues to resonate today, the BBC reported.

The Tulsa County sheriff, county commissioners and the Oklahoma Military Department were named as defendants in the suit, the BBC added.

Tulsa’s Black Wall Street was a prosperous Black community that had a large working-class population, including doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. However, resentment toward Black prosperity caused a white mob to kill hundreds of residents, burn more than 1,250 homes, and erase years of Black success.

Besides the destruction of properties, the 1921 massacre also destroyed inheritance that could be passed to generations. “When the violence ended, Tulsa Negroes were homeless,” the Journal of Black Studies noted in 1972.

The case may be the last opportunity for survivors Fletcher and Randle to receive compensation for the devastating attack, according to the BBC.

“There is no going to the United States Supreme Court. There is no going to the federal court system. This is it,” their attorney, Damario Solomon-Simmons, previously argued in a legal brief.

Meanwhile, the attorney of the remaining survivors said the victims plan to file a petition for the Oklahoma Supreme Court to rehear the case and reconsider their decision.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 18, 2024


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