Judge Tosses Tulsa Lawsuit



TULSA—A county district judge has thrown out of court a lawsuit of the three remaining survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that plaintiffs cannot refile the suit.

The survivors had asked the court to award them reparations for the incident that occurred after a young Black man was accused of accosting a white woman in an elevator.

The young man had slipped while entering an elevator and accidentally fell on the woman.

She accused him of molesting her and he was arrested.

Ku Klux Klansmen threatened to lynch the young man and that led to whites attacking and destroying the Greenwood business district—or the area called “Tulsa’s Black Wall Street—and many of the homes and buildings in the Black area of the city.

The judge dismissed the case with prejudice on July 7.

The three survivors–Hughes Van Ellis Sr., Lessie Benningfield Randle and Viola Fletcher—filed the lawsuit against the city of Tulsa, the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners, the Tulsa County Sheriff and the Oklahoma Military Department.

It said the massacre represented an “ongoing public nuisance” to survivors.

Other attempts to seek reparations have failed.

Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall dismissed the lawsuit on July 7.

The three plaintiffs (ages 102 to 109) lived through what is considered to be one of the worst incidents of domestic terrorism in American history.

More than 1,000 homes were burned and businesses left in ruins as 35 city blocks were destroyed, and, though just 39 deaths were listed in official records, estimates now put the number at closer to 300.

The suit alleged that the massacre, perpetrated by defendants and others,

 Rendered plaintiffs insecure, “and endangered the community.”

Also, the lawsuit said defendants “began enriching themselves by promoting the site of the massacre as a tourist attraction.”

The July 7 ruling ends a century long legal battle by survivors.

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