Judge Rules To Move Forward With Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Lawsuit

It’s about time! The survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 are still fighting for justice after a white mob attacked Tulsa’s Greenwood district, also known as “Black Wall Street.” The massacre left an estimated 300 Black people homeless and displaced. With three massacre survivors living, and a century later, they may finally get the justice they desperately deserve. According to ABC News, an Oklahoma judge ruled to allow their case to move forward on Monday after the defendants sought a motion to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit filed last year seeks reparations for descendants of victims of the massacre, and the plaintiffs are suing for a victims’ compensation fund. Judge Caroline Wall said the motion to dismiss was “granted in part” and “denied in part,” which allows the case to proceed. Although it’s a big step, it’s unclear what will happen next, including details on a potential trial, says Michael Swartz, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Currently, there are three living survivors. 107-year-old Viola Ford Fletcher says the victims are pushing for “whatever it takes to replace our loss.” The state’s public nuisance statute allows authorities to be sued for what attorneys say is their role in endangering Greenwood’s residents’ safety and property. ABC also reports for the suit that plaintiffs must show that the “comfort, repose, health, or safety” of Greenwood’s residents was harmed. 

In addition, prove Tulsa officials failed to perform their duties to protect Greenwood and its residents from that harm. Tulsa’s Mayor, G.T. Bynum, who has taken charge of efforts to help find missing Tulsa victims, spoke out, saying, “I am not opposed to cash payments to descendants and the victims. It’s where the money comes from that, for me, is important.” He added that he is ”opposed to levying a tax on this generation of Tulsans who are at no fault.”

Damario Solomon-Simmons, another attorney for the survivors, explains that hundreds of millions of dollars could be awarded to victims if they win the lawsuit, accounting for financial losses. Roommates, we will continue to keep you posted as more information comes out.

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