Headline RoundupJune 13th, 2024

OK Supreme Court Rejects Lawsuit Filed by Survivors of Tulsa Race Massacre

Summary from the AllSides News Team

The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. 

For Context: It is estimated that over 300 people were killed and thousands were left homeless in 1921 when a white mob attacked and burned Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood, an affluent black community known as “Black Wall Street.” Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108, Viola Fletcher, 109, and Hughes Van Ellis, 102, are living survivors of the massacre and were among the plaintiffs in the case. The plaintiffs argued that the massacre amounted to a “public nuisance.”

Details: Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Dustin Rowe deemed the plaintiffs’ grievances “legitimate,” but concluded “they do not fall within the scope of our state's public nuisance statute.” Rowe, added, “The continuing blight alleged within the Greenwood community born out of the massacre implicates generational-societal inequities that can only be resolved by policymakers--not the courts.”

Key Quotes: Following the ruling, Ike Howard, grandson of Viola Fletcher, stated, “They were blighted and once again not made whole. We still remain blighted. We wish the D.O.J would investigate. … How can we get justice in the same city that created the nuisance? Is justice only for the rich?” The City of Tulsa released a statement reading, “The City of Tulsa respects the court’s decision and affirms the significance of the work the City continues to do in the North Tulsa and Greenwood communities.”

How the Media Covered It: Left- and center-rated outlets covered the ruling more frequently and prominently.

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