State Supreme Court Rules Against Survivors Of Tulsa Race Massacre

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court is ruling against the survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Survivors of the 1921 race massacre sued the city of Tulsa on the grounds of a public nuisance claim alleging that the city and chamber were exploiting the massacre by promoting tourism for the city's gain. The survivors had sought reparations from the city, but the state's highest court ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to justify a public nuisance claim. A Tulsa County judge previously dismissed the lawsuit in July 2023, but the case was appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Statement from the Legal Team for the Survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921:

"Our clients, Viola “Mother” Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, will file a petition for rehearing with the Oklahoma Supreme Court asking the Court to reconsider its decision. 

The destruction of forty-square blocks of property on the night of May 31, 1921 through murder and arson clearly meets the definition of a public nuisance under Oklahoma law. Faithful application of the law compels the conclusion that Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher have stated a claim for relief. They are entitled to a trial. Yet the Court held that Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher have asked the Court to decide a “political” question that is beyond the purview of the Court. 

Incredibly, during the extensive oral argument the Supreme Court held on the appeal, not a single member of the nine-member Court asked a question about this political question theory. It is not a political question simply because the suit seeks to remedy wrongful acts perpetrated by a white mob against Black people – the court system is the very place where such harms are meant to be remedied.

In 103 years since the Massacre, no court has held a trial addressing the Massacre and no individual or entity has been held accountable for it. As justice is delayed once again in the Oklahoma court system, we call upon the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the Massacre under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007. 

The Massacre happened 103 years ago, but it remains a vivid memory of Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher who as young girls saw their community destroyed in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. As Mother Fletcher celebrated her 110th birthday last month and Mother Randle will celebrate the same birthday later this year, time is of the essence for this investigation to begin."

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